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Welcome Back to the West
By oneshotstop
Posted on 08/01/16
The only thing that stops the dust is the rain. It’s a sweet reprieve, but there is no middle ground. The land is either as dry as the Betty Ford clinic, or as wet as the ocean floor. Everything can be seen from the ridge overlooking Armadillo as John Marston gently bounces along atop...


whytenoiz whytenoiz's Blog
Now That it's Finally Real, My Concerns About the Final Fantasy VII Remake
Posted on Thursday, July 2 2015 @ 09:54:11 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

       When I was eleven years old, it was a very good year, and I can remember my daily routine vividly. These were the years before I owned a Sony Playstation, and I used to venture to my friends house - everyday after school - to watch him play through Final Fantasy VII. The game introduced me to the explicit detail of storytelling no game had done for me before this point, which is why I consider Final Fantasy VII to be one of the most influential games of my entire life. I didn't want to miss a single battle my friend played, nor did I want to miss a single scrolling blue text bubble above my favorite characters’ heads. When I got my Playstation the following Christmas, this game came alongside it. As far as I was concerned, the next six months of my life was dictated by my favorite polygon’d hero, Cloud Strife (among the rest of his rag-tag group known as AVALANCHE).

I was alongside everyone else since the PS2 days of the possibility of the remake becoming real. I was to the point where I would have accepted a remaster, but now that a lot of late twenty-year-olds like me are finding their childhood dreams being realized, I believe I speak for a lot of us when I speak on some concerns I have involving this project Square Enix has ahead of it.

1) Music Score

I am on my hands and knees begging the powers that be regarding the preservation of the music score for Final Fantasy VII. It was amazing for its time and continues to be amazing to me now for more than nostalgic reasons. I still get goosebumps when I hear the fast-paced music when the Emerald Weapon attacks Junion, the world music when you are traveling from town to town, and the various battle music from the typical random encounter all the way to the One-Winged Angel that is the ringtone of half the other Final Fantasy fanboys and girls out there. I am hoping strongly for something along the lines of a remaster here rather than a start from scratch.

2) Materia-based Equipment System

The materia system is what made this Final Fantasy unique among the others, as they all have their own bells and whistles that makes them stand out from the others. The fact that you leveled a socketable item along with characters allowed you to take the power-harnessed stone and carry it to other players as needed for different fights. This was an AMAZING system that wasn’t ever really carried over to the other games in the same way. I really hope this comes back, and it would be a shame if we saw the role of Materia diminished in some way.

3) Dialogue Maturity

Part of appreciating art is preserving it in its entirety. A big part of my work now involves directing theater, and those of us that work in my field know that a piece that is written a particular way is meant to be carried over line for line to a T, especially when it concerns dialog, no matter how old the piece is. Final Fantasy VII was vulgar and gritty (looking at you, Cid Highwind) and, as we have seen in the Final Fantasy games of the more recent times, we have seen dialog dampened to appeal to a wider audience.

If the game has to have an option for censorship, fine, allow it to be in the beginning, but don’t sacrifice the mood and purity of the game as a piece of art simply because you want it to get a lower ESRB rating; I believe this would severely impact the mood and theme of the game entirely. Can you imagine if Samuel L. Jackson’s wallet was changed to say “Bad Butt Momma Boing Head” in Pulp Fiction? That would totally change the dynamic of the character, we do not want to see Barrett become an altar boy when such a key part to his intensity is his language.

4) Story Preservation

Am I the only one that is worried that Final Fantasy VII’s story will remain as much intact as possible? Not likely. In fact, one of my BIGGEST concerns is we would get a more streamlined, abbreviated version of the tale we have all come to remember line for line in order to make the game more fast paced. If this happens, I will be devastated. This story is extremely awesome as it is, even with its flaws. If you want to make Cloud go a little further in one of his relationships, that’s about as much ground as I am willing to cede (Tifa was one of my first crushes as a kid…..I’m not joking. I would draw her on all of my school folders).

5) World Size

Is it me, or to this day does this game still feel massive? I truly felt like I was traveling to a whole other country each time you moved to another part of the world in Final Fantasy VII. I really hope that they don’t make the whole world blend together when they design this game, or feel less significant than it is to reach each of the games’ unique locales. I want to be able to revisit these areas and remember them as they were meant to be remembered. I know it might be a pipe dream that they would ever return to the “World Map” format, but I hope they do, in a way. At least then there will be some control in the travel system, rather than the “fast instant travel” we started seeing in Final Fantasy X and beyond.

6) Character Personalities

Although I kind of touched on this with the language used in the game, I feel this deserves to be mentioned further. I really hope, in the inevitability that these games are going to receive voice acting, that we don’t get some polarized look at some of our favorite characters turned into high-pitched voiced morons with naive interpretations of heroism and adventure (looking at you, Snow from Final Fantasy XIII). Some of the voiced dialog from newer Final Fantasy games makes me cringe, and I know this is just a transition from Japanese to Western writing I am experiencing in a way, and that’s good and fine. I love a lot of Japanese stuff. However, going back to what I have said before, PLEASE don’t change the way these characters have already been presented, or dumb them down in any way.

7) Combat

Will they go back to the old-school turn-based combat system? I feel like it won't be likely, since new players will be just as important to them as pleasing the nostalgists like me and they will want to make it new or more interactive somehow. This is dangerous territory, however, since a fluid combat system can make or break a game, no matter how long anticipated it is. I hated the Final Fantasy XIII system.... I know I am not totally like everyone else in that department but I still am desperately hoping a more old-school take on the combat mechanics. Bravely Default was supposed to be aimed at guys like me, which is cool, but it is more important to me if it is implemented in similar fashion to the Final Fantasy VII of my childhood. I still think I hear the “alert” sound effect when it is a particular party members turn to act in my head sometimes.

I could go on and on talking about how badly I hope the remake of Final Fantasy VII lives up even partially to my expectations. I am wary about it finally coming about in many ways, but that is not to say I am not optimistic. You better believe I will be pre-ordering any special edition of this game that may come about for my PS4 as soon as it is possibly available. I just really hope- with all of my mako-charged heart- is as every bit as revolutionary as it was back then. If they pull through on this, I can begin my next life project, which will be begging for the next 15 years for a Final Fantasy VIII remake, or a true sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lion (or Lion Wars for you purists).


​[The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan]

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The Last of Us : Left Behind - The Kiss
Posted on Monday, February 24 2014 @ 09:45:18 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

Whether you are a fan of Naughty Dog or not, you have to praise them on their recent accomplishment of the emotionally gripping story they've created with The Last of Us, and even more recently, it’s expansion Left Behind. While there are many people (including myself) who had bought the season pass to DLC only to get one extension to the story, this one delivers the answers to many questions regarding Ellie's past that we’ve had throughout the main story in commendable fashion. While many people may be upset with the lack of action present in Left Behind, I found the primarily story-driven piece to be everything I could have wanted. The tale between Ellie and Riley is a heartfelt one, and as a Triple-A developer, Naughty Dog has taken a bold, risky step in a way that is inspiring and should be applauded in how they presented these two teenage girls struggling to find their place considering the grim and dreary apocalyptic future they’ve inherited.

::WARNING: I will be talking about events that happened in the Last of Us DLC Left Behind. If you are worried about spoilers, read no further and do yourself a favor and play this game::

It’s not hard to grow connected and even attached to characters in video games, and considering the expert writing ability The Last of Us team at Naughty Dog has, the characters within the game are certainly no exception. So what happens when a writing team knows that millions of people will be playing their highly anticipated DLC right out of the gate, and they decide to reveal a powerful secret about that girl we all wish was our kid sister?  

The moment I began seeing the relationship between Ellie and Riley unfold, I knew Naughty Dog had taken a bold step I had to immediately praise. As a sociologist and one who works with adolescents in a life coaching position on a daily basis, I decided I would take the opportunity to explain some things and sand down some corners in a way that doesn’t bog you guys down with theory and research. This particular event, of course, was the kiss Ellie and Riley had shared towards the end of the DLC, just shortly before they were to meet their fate as infected.

It doesn’t take a social scientist to know that this forward presentation was a risky move, and being so it was well deserving of praise. The first impression many people are going to have is “OMG Ellie is gay!”, but really this is a crude jump to immediate labeling which really doesn’t do the complexity of the moment justice, and it really is much deeper than that. This is not to say that Ellie is not a lesbian or bisexual, which may very well be the case, but that was not at all the overarching message the writers are trying to show us.

Adolescents, especially at Ellie’s age, go through many challenges in establishing their own identity, which many of you can testify. Through this stage of development, teenagers typically form many attachments and connections that they never have had before, as it is a natural progression in their growth. Now, consider this instinctive need for attachment and venues of affection in a post-apocalyptic environment. Ellie obviously lost her parents at a very young age and has literally no one, and Riley is essentially in the same place. When two people spend most of their time together, they have a tendency to grow dependent on each other, especially when their social life is devoid of any other influences. I know this statement may arouse a negative response, but it is actually not uncommon at this age to be attracted, even subconsciously, to people you are close to, even when they are of the same identifying gender. The profound significance of a relationship of which one can confide in another for comfort is a powerful one, and when you are a teenager, that connection is tossed on top of an influx of raging hormones and an overarching quest for establishing one’s identity. Naughty Dog handedly showed the complexities of this stage of growth, and as an avid gamer and someone who works with distressed teenagers that face many tough realities often, I can attest to the authenticity and realism of this display.

So what does this mean? Here we have a relationship that the player has no control to manipulate, unlike the experiences in Bioware’s Mass Effect or Dragon Age that allow you to pick-your partner(s), and forces its players to see something that is going to enhance their attachment to Ellie for better or worse. This makes this experience a pioneer into mostly uncharted territory, and further is prone to generate questions about where gaming is leading us. We see on a daily basis the challenges to what many consider social norms and order, and this is how society evolves.

So, if you ask me, this is where true growth in gaming occurs; the “where and when” it is presented to square off with the status quo in society. In the dreary nightmare of existence that The Last of Us presents, we see a degradation of humanity into an realm that doesn’t know black and white; where anyone is capable of anything to survive. It is unlikely that Ellie and Riley have to deal with the social pressures from family, laws or religion that those attracted to others of the same sex or gender deal with in today’s world. This is where Naughty Dog truly made an amazing breakthrough. It is expected that games continue to wow us with evolved gameplay and pristine graphics that seem to get better and better. But when a game throws itself into the fold where it opens itself to be scrutinized by radical conservatives or those who are just against same-sex relationships, that is when we see true evolution in gaming development- and even more so a change into how media communicates these changes.

In conclusion, this move towards showing us the complexity of our female protagonist’s relationship with her best friend shows much more than a bi-curious event that was designed to immediately define her sexuality. It shows the growth and complexities of growing up as a teenager in a tough environment where one’s life is challenged on a daily basis; where these two young women were lucky to have anything at all. I honestly believe Ellie had the foundation for a similar relationship with Sam had he survived longer than he had. After all, if you remember, she did admit the thing she feared the most was ending up alone, a truth you wouldn't necessarily admit unless it was someone you felt you could confide in, and she could have just as easily used her relationship with Sam to fulfill that role growing adolescents tend to desire.

However, regardless of the seemingly implied sexuality of one of the best written characters I have seen in gaming in a while, the connection between Riley and Ellie will surely resonate with me for a long time, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what these developers have in store for us next. Hopefully I was able to communicate that the relationship of these two teenage girls should be taken by more than face value and got you, the readers, thinking more about the larger, more complex message I believe the game's writers were trying to convey. As someone who is a large supporter of social change, historically it is brave moves like these made by huge influential forces that lends their hand to ushering in a step further in social equality and acceptance, and further why social conservatives always end up going down kicking and screaming in the end. Very rarely do I get attached to characters like I do when reading books in a video game, and I can’t help wanting more of Ellie and Joel, despite the complete package The Last of Us and it’s DLC Left Behind has already brought us.

Thanks for reading my blog post, it’s my first ever on GR even though I have been a reader of this site for many years, but I saw an opportunity to combine my love for gaming and profession and write on one of my most visited sites. Thanks GR, for giving your readers the ability to post these, you guys are awesome.

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted originally on February 17, 2013, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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