Long Time, No See

It’s been two months since I last updated this blog. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to. Believe me, updating this is one thing I really do want to do, however, I finish university on May 7th, and that is consuming my time at the moment, understandably. Along with having very little time to update, I am saving up to move down to London with my other half at the moment, which is eating into my gaming fund.

I just thought I would take this opportunity to do a quick update about where I’ve been, what I’ve been up to, and my general gaming ponderings at the moment.

This Christmas just gone wasn’t a heavily gaming based one for a change. My parents bought me a PS Vita, which I absolutely love, but due to the financial situation I’ve only been able to download the PS+ games; I don’t actually own a physical copy of a PS Vita game yet. I’m not even sure which ones to buy to be honest, because I’ve just been sucked in by all the PS Store sales, so I have Spelunky and Hotline Miami that I’ve actually purchased. Oh, and FFIX, but I just couldn’t resist the Square Enix sale. Ironic that the PS Vita Slim is announced just as I get the original, but to be perfectly honest, I’m glad I’ve got the original. The Slim doesn’t really appear to add anything else, aside from ¬£’s.

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Aside from that, my gaming time has been very scarce. Lightning Returns has been released, and I have to say I’m quite glad I don’t have time for it at the moment, because it looks terrible. It’s almost like Square Enix have thrown away everything that made Final Fantasy good. I can’t believe they’ve taken such a bad character and made her the focal point of a terrible trilogy. It’s received some terrible reviews from the public and the critics. All I can say is, bring on FFX/X-2 HD next month.

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I’m still waiting for Bravely Default to drop in price, but again, I probably won’t be getting hold of this until May time. Bravely Default looks to be the JRPG of the year so far, but it’s early days.

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That’s it from me for now. As I said, May 7th is my final deadline, and I’m optimistic I’m going to graduate my Journalism course with at the very least a 2:1. It’s been a tough three years, and I’ve neglected this blog a lot in favour of my degree, but I hope that what I’ve learnt I will be able to transfer to here, and start making this blog as great as I want it to be. If you want to keep up to date with what I’m doing/ranting about until I return in May, then follow me on Twitter @Debus42. Is there anything you want me to write about upon my return? Let me know in the comments. I’ll try to post before then, but I can’t promise anything.

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Bravely Default Demo Ponderings

After a lengthy 3DS update a day or two ago, I downloaded the Bravely Default demo. Readers of this blog will know my love for JRPGs, and especially Square Enix. I’m hoping that the end of the horribly bad FFXIII franchise will signal better times for Squeenix, and by the look of Bravely Default, I could be right.

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I’ve probably only spent about two hours with it, but I’m really enjoying it. I love the side scrolling layout of the town/s, and the battle system is just what I like to see from a decent JRPG: some good ol’ turn based combat. I also absolutely adore the little sprite animation. I’m such a sucker for little chibi style characters, and I love the way that Squeenix have been taking the visuals of their handheld games recently.

It’s interesting to see the class system put into place so well, and implemented outside of a tactics game. I’m so used to the class system (black and white mages, warriors, ninjas etc) being in frustrating tactics games, that it’s quite refreshing to see it put into a straightforward JRPG. I know it’s been done before in other Final Fantasy games, but something about Bravely Default seems different. I can see that I’m going to be spending a lot of time leveling up certain classes and finding out my parties strengths in the future.

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It appears to have a few steep difficulty curves from the brief amount I’ve played, but that’s nothing a little bit of grinding can’t solve. I hate it when a game holds your hand and lets you sail through, so I’m looking forward to the challenge, and having the time to dedicate to it.

The main plot of the game isn’t really revealed in the demo, or at least it hasn’t been yet, but I’m excited to get my hands on it after Christmas. I’m in the period of time before Christmas where I give myself a self-imposed game buying ban, just in case I receive any from friends and family during the festive period. I’ll definitely be getting my order in for this as soon as I can though, as it’s been getting good reviews, and I really need a decent JRPG back in my life.

Catching up with the gaming girl

This is going to be a very random, and perhaps disjointed update.

I’ve gone and done it again. I’ve gone and neglected the blog. I’ve been a VERY busy, and very ill gamer girl though. In between doing lots of babysitting, lots of work from home, coming down with an ear and throat infection (which crippled me for a good week) and going to London and back, I’ve not even had much time for gaming to be honest. I’m quite glad that I bought Animal Crossing when I did, because it’s really been my saving grace these past few weeks as I would just wake up, dig up my fossils and go fishing for an hour or so before I needed to crack on. I do have some further ponderings on Animal Crossing, and indeed the 3DS itself, but I’ll save them for another time.

I finally managed to get some Street Passes while I was in London too, oddly enough sat in the lounge waiting for my train. I knew that as soon as I went to London I would get some. No one near me appears to go out with their 3DS. I feel like a lone gamer!

In random gaming related news I purchased a new phone case from Gamer Print with Cloud Strife on, and I’m over the moon with it. I’d been stuck with a clear case ever since I got this new phone, and I’ve always been a sucker for a funky case. It just had to be bought.

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Favourite game character on my phone? Yes please

In similar news my mother ever so kindly purchased the Art of Final Fantasy box set from Amazon which arrived today, which was a nice surprise. I haven’t had chance to look at it properly yet, but naturally pictures were taken, and I will certainly be spending my evening scanning through the pages and drooling over the glorious artwork.

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Three beastly beautiful books

I’m also going to be busy next week as I have a friend coming to stay, so my fridge is stocked with all the essentials, and we’re going to likely be hitting Manchester for many cocktails and glasses of wine.

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My fridge is ready

I have also managed to nab myself a weeks worth of work experience at a certain gaming magazine in August, so look forward to hearing my tales of that when I am back. I’m super excited, and can’t wait to throw myself into it and hopefully impress with my writing skills. I’ve also been made games editor on the magazine at my university, so I’m searching for student writers and trying to come up with some interesting ideas for it, so that’s naturally taking up some of my time.

I promise regular updates will be back soon. After next week things should settle down again and I should be able to find the time to get a few posts scheduled.

Video Game music in the Classic FM Hall of Fame

If you read this blog, you will know of my absolute love for video game music. It doesn’t matter whether it’s orchestral, metal or retro midi files. I love everything about video game music, and I spend a good chunk of my time listening to it and reliving associated moments from each song in my head. The battle music for Devil May Cry 4 pumps me up and makes me think of destroying demons with a huge sword. The boss battle music for Baten Kaitos makes me think of having a little mini rave to myself while I quickly flick through battle cards. Even listening to The Song of Storms from Zelda makes me remember the hours I spent changing the weather in Hyrule, just because I felt like it.

Video game music is great, but it’s not very widely recognised as a popular genre outside of its niche. For the past two years though, the Classic FM Hall of Fame has welcomed some new names and faces to its ranks, some of which have been video games. This makes me so unbelievably happy, I can’t even begin to describe. To see my favourite entertainment medium get so much recognition is just wonderful to see, however there have been some who have ridiculed their well-earned places.¬† There has always been, to me anyway, an element of elitism from the classical music world. It’s called classic for a reason, and love it or hate it, Classic FM play homage to some of the best composers out there, living and dead. I have attended several outdoor classical concerts, and there is no reason why these compositions from more obscure media cannot be included.

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A triumph for video game music lovers everywhere

Do the Final Fantasy Series and The Elder Scrolls series deserve their place at 5th and 3rd in the hall of fame? Yes, of course they do, and I would never put them anywhere else. Do they have a place amongst some of the greatest composers we have known? Yes. If Eternal Sonata is a game based on the life of Frederic Chopin, featuring his very own compositions, then of course video games deserve a place. In fact, I became interested in Frederic Chopin after playing Eternal Sonata. I have always enjoyed a small selection of classical music anyway, alongside my obscure taste in Japanese hardcore trance and Japanese rock, so video games featuring classical music was an instant win for me.

Another example of a time when classical music and video games worked in perfect harmony is Dragon Quest VIII. Koichi Sugiyama composed a beautiful score to this wonderful Japanese RPG, and I think if it was composed in any other way it wouldn’t have worked. I will definitely be putting in a fresh vote for Koichi Sugiyama, and encouraging others to do the same.

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A beautiful game needs a beautiful score

I can understand the hostility from those outside of the video game fandom, but I do wonder; have these people listened to the songs that they are slating so much? My Aunt listens to Classic FM a lot, and I played her one of my Distant Worlds CDs and she loved it. It’s played by an orchestra, and just because it’s from a video game does not de-merit it in any way at all in my mind. The brilliant Lord of the Rings soundtrack is allowed, but why not video games? Perhaps people need to open their minds a bit more.

Now, I’m not for one second suggesting that video games should start to dominate the Classic FM airwaves, but I think they should be given a chance, because Nobuo Uematsu, Koichi Sugiyama and even Koji Kondo are magnificent composers who deserve to be heard, and deserve to be acknowledged for their talent.

What do you think? Should video games have a place in the Classic FM Hall of Fame? Which composers do you want to see there?

Out with the old, in with the new

Life is busy in every aspect, hence no update for a long time again. Still lacking that routine.

A belated happy new year! 2011 was a slow year for games in my opinion. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really have the time, or maybe I’m just becoming too difficult to please and a little fed up with the gaming industry taking two steps forward, and about five steps back when it comes to my gaming preferences.

For Christmas I received¬† RAGE and Harvest Moon Grand Bazaar in terms of gaming. RAGE is very good, but more like a poor mans Borderlands. I’m very much enjoying it, but can’t really spend more than a couple of hours on it before becoming, not bored, but a little frustrated with the ‘Go here and get this, then come back again’ quests. The racing is excellent, but it feels as though the game tries to split itself in two. One minute it’s a FPS with mutants and evil factions out to get you, and the next minute it’s a racing game with weapons and upgrades for your dune buggy. It’s like Bethesda tried to cram so much into the game, that they didn’t notice that some of it had spilt out of the sides like salad escaping from a sandwich when it came to release.

Post apocalyptic wasteland? Seems familiar.

Post apocalyptic wasteland? Seems familiar.

Grand Bazaar is a very big step in the right direction in my opinion for the Harvest Moon franchise in my opinion though. It works a lot better on the DS than previous releases, and I can actually just use the buttons and D-pad, leaving the stylus to just be chewed on (which to be fair, is all it’s good for most of the time). It takes a while to get going, and because it’s so different this could put people off, but getting rid of the pointless stylus commands is one of the best moves the franchise has ever made. Harvest Moon games are meant to be simple, and use the control pad. None of this silly stylus nonsense and tickling horses (Yes, it sounds wrong, and it is).

Aside from those games, as I said 2011 was a bit ‘meh’ for me, in lack of a better way to put it. I always find though that at the beginning of every year about three or four games come out all at the same time, all of which I want to give all my attention to. This year these games are; Final Fantasy XIII-2, Catherine and Soul Calibur 5. These three games come out essentially the same week. This is ironically the week of my reading week for uni. Not only are all these games coming out, but the man is also coming to stay during the timeframe they are all being released in. Maybe I can distract him with shiny cars…

They just have to do the dramatic pose...

They just have to do the dramatic pose...

To be fair I have missed the new Assassins Creed and Batman, but anyway! Hopefully this year will be better for gaming. Catherine will satisfy my quirky taste, Final Fantasy should satisfy my JRPG craving, and Soul Calibur, well, that’s just a classic. Needless to say I am excited for next month, but i am also slightly scared of the hammering that my bank balance is going to take. I so wish my birthday was closer to the beginning of the year so I could just request games as gifts from people instead. What on earth will I play once February is out of the way though…

And on one final note, Kairosoft are continuing to steal my money and my soul. Mega Mall Story was released a short while back, causing my eyes to light up, making me lose all sense and press ‘Pay and download’ far too quickly. I have played it twice now, soon to initiate a third, but am still eagerly awaiting another surprise Kairosoft game to launch on Android. Too much mobile gaming excitement. Now, back to uni work.