final fantasy

Final Fantasy XIV – a meal I regret

Copyright by VG CATS

I’m a really easy eater. Due to my parent’s way of introducing my siblings and me to new foods and a natural curiosity for the culinary, I eat practically everything. Furthermore, I think this open-minded approach towards food is the source of my general tolerant stance towards new things. It has inspired me to try things before judging them, especially when it comes to video games.

The past few weeks, my digital diet had grown somewhat boring. I was mostly living off of multiple servings of Guild Wars 2 a day, while consuming some snacks of FTL and Trine 2 in between. I was lacking some vitamine N for “new” in my daily life, and thus I felt like last Sunday was a good day to add some flavor. A nice plate of Final Fantasy XIV would treat my stomach to something nice. Or so I thought.

Long story short: I forgot about my allergy to bad game design and had to throw up…metaphorically speaking.

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Strange Sunday – how to make magic special again

“Mage battle” by sandara

Most fantasy and sci-fi settings have magic in some way. No matter if you call it sorcery, psionic powers or miracles, every supernatural effect that is based on some bizarre, at most semi-scientific power is magic to me. I’m normally not a big fan of magic in games, unless it’s done in a cool and fresh way. Sadly, most settings miss out on the chance of making their magic something unique, and that saddens me.

You see, I have the feeling that most authors and game designers are under the impression that magic in itself is fairly unique already. It gives characters the capability to do something out of the ordinary, and thus it might not need any fancy background explanation. However, audiences have become jaded by the sheer amount of magic these days. The reason why I never bothered to play a biotic in Mass Effect was because it was just another kind of psychic magic to me, and I left those cool tricks to the rest of my crew. Fortunately, there are settings where something interesting is done with magic, making it cool, exotic and…well, strange. I want to highlight a few of those in this week’s Strange Sunday, to give you some inspiration!

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The three coolest boss encounters of my life

Bosses, ladies and gentlemen. They have this dangerous allure about them, and facing them all by yourself is always a challenge. Once you’re eye to eye with one of them, it feels like you are an incompetent little kid, who just happened to stumble his way here with sheer luck. It’s like…wait, what? No, I’m not talking about the boss at your office who keeps throwing dossiers at you and has you running around the place, fetching coffee for him. I’m talking about the real bosses, those from the video games we play when we’re not in the office (of course, a good office clerk would never even think of playing a game during working hours…)

To honour these challenging encounters, I’m counting down my top three boss encounters from video games. So make sure you have enough health potions and that your save file is up-to-date, we’re facing the big ones!

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Three game soundtracks that are music to my ears

sephi sing

You know what really bothers me? Every time a new game hits the shelves, everyone talks about its awesome gameplay or awesome-o-saurus graphics, but I rarely hear people give their praise about the music of a game. Sure, there are some aficionados who mention it, but in general, music seems to be a second-class criterion when it comes to judging games. I want to set this wrong right, so today, I’ll give you my three favourite game soundtracks. Hook up your headphones and set your volume to eargasm, we’re gonna bring music to those ears!

Number 3: Mass Effect 2
As I have told you in previous posts, the Mass Effect trilogy is one of my all-time favourite gaming epics. It made me bond with several characters (shout-out to my homeboy Garrus), and had me actual care for the fate of the galaxy. One of the reasons for that was the sometimes bombastic, sometimes enchanting soundtrack. Out of the three games, the one soundtrack that really hit me in the feels was that of Mass Effect 2. With tracks like “The Normandy Reborn” and “End Run”, it still gives me the urge to step aboard that damn cool ship, listen to Joker’s puns and shoot up some Reapers.

On a sidenote, one track that makes me think of ME2 but that isn’t on the soundtrack, is the track used in this badass trailer of the game. It’s one of Two Steps From Hell’s masterpieces, which should also have more than the million fans they already have!

Number 2: Dragon Age: Origins
Yeah, sue me for giving the second spot to another BioWare title, but it’s not my fault their sound department makes epic music. Dragon Age: Origins is one ride of a fantasy RPG, and if you haven’t played it yet, you should be castigated for your sins and then play it. Before you do so, however, hear me out why the music of the game is so delightful.

When making epic music for an epic game, the mistake many composers make is to have it sound just too epic. I know, that sounds weird, but it’s hard to explain. It’s like the music loses its supportive, carrying function, drowning out the actual scene it is meant to make perfect on an acoustic level. Luckily, Inon Zur is one heroic composer, and the pieces he wrote for DA:O are marvelous. If you want to hear the (in my opinion) best ones, check out “Dragon Age: Origins” and “The Deep Roads”. 

Number 1: Final Fantasy VII
Oh geesh, bring on the goosebumps! It’s hard for me to give my feelings for this game and its divine music a suitable written form, but I will try anyway. Gosh, just thinking of this soundtrack gets me all hyped.

Next to making some of the greatest RPG’s that have ever been inserted into consoles, Square-Enix is also known for hiring the best composers and musicians alive. Their in-house musical genius is Nobuo Uematsu, who has been responsible for most of the music you hear in the Final Fantasy series. The peak of his talent shows in the soundtrack of Final Fantasy VII, a game that has left his mark on the genre and is still called one of the greatest games ever made. If you ask me, that is an understatement.

Next to being one of the greatest digital adventures I have ever experienced, FFVII is also a musical highlight. When the movie sequel Advent Children was released, a great part of the soundtrack was remade and reborn in an even greater way. While watching the movie and fanboying all over the place, my ears were almost unable to really comprehend the greatness of the music I was hearing. The new versions of masterpieces like “One-Winged Angel” and “Aerith’ Theme” made my skin shudder in delight, and my heart pound faster as I was re-united with the heroes from a game that had touched me so deeply.

Really, if you want to hear the perfect example of music not just supporting, but uplifting a game, play FFVII and listen carefully. Be careful though, you might be humming the “Victory Fanfare” after every success for the rest of your life if you’re like me.

So that’s my top three of epic gaming soundtracks. If you think I missed any great musical piece, or if you would like to share your opinion, hit me up in the comments. While you’re doing that, I have to clean the tears from my cheeks after being reminded of Aerith’ death…