Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Minecraft: Why Playing Creative with A Seven-Year-Old Can be a Bad Idea


But let's back up.

Behold the blocky!

For those of you who don't know, Minecraft is an open sandbox game that has no form of linear progression. It was based on the idea of building for building's sake, using stylistic boxy and heavily pixeled graphics. Basically, Minecraft has two main modes. There is survival where you will be forced to survive through monster filled nights by building yourself a shelter, producing food and making yourself new shinies from things you've gathered. Then there is the calm and quiet creative where you have unlimited access to whatever blocks you want and you are allowed to just build (and flyyy!). I prefer building in the challenge of survival because creative, while fun, can get a bit boring after a while.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Final Fantasy X-2: Why, Just, Why.

Let me just start by saying that it is my GREATEST REGRET that the first Final Fantasy I bring up in this blog is Final Fantasy X-2. However, the blog must go on. Despite its reputation, I actually liked Final Fantasy X-2 growing up. I played it when I was younger, naturally after having dabbled in Final Fantasy X, and I liked it for one main reason: the battle system was a lot of fun. It was a bit of a change from the traditional ATB system used in older Final Fantasies. You know the typical JRPG turn based systems where you go and they go but you all stay in perfect little rows. Sort of slow paced, but not slow enough when everyone dies one by one in screaming agony as you frantically press buttons and yell at the tonberry on the screen in sheer terror for the very first time.
Or so was my experience in Final Fantasy VIII at the age of ten or so.
It forgot to mention that it feeds on human tears...
Okay, so the battle system is pretty much the same except now they move around in weird and clunky ways with strange camera angles and even stranger job change animations in the middle of combat, BUT MORE THAN THAT, I enjoyed Square bringing back the job system itself. I was in love with Final Fantasy V because of the job system and all the the variety it gave to playing the game, and I was thrilled to have it back again, only later being exposed to Final Fantasy 3 and loving that as well. (Although, a bit sad in Final Fantasy X-2 without a summoner job). THAT is what really hooked me. Seeing all those skills progress stirred something in me than no man ever will! Oh yes, I'm talking about those sexy job juices!

                                                                                                                      Oh, and I also liked 1000 words.
         I can't explain why, especially having not gotten up to this part for many years, but I love this part and this is a good moment from my childhood.

BUT FOR SOME ODD REASON I had the desire to try it out again. I found myself craving the battle system and just fighting, leveling up each job and beating the game! It went smoothly for a bit... but then it happened. I noticed a baby cry in part of a song. Mind you, before this the music had been annoying me a bit. It was very pop, cute and light; an extreme turn from the somber and melodic music of the past. True, past songs weren't always deep, but majority did lean for the dark, serious, and epic tone. I don't hate Final Fantasy X-2's music, not at all. Some songs are great, like Eternity: Memories of Lightwaves.

But then.


 That damn baby happened.

And I had to take a step back and think, did I really just hear that? Well, yes. Yes, I did. You see, they incorporated a baby's cry into a song. It was a quick part, just a "Whaa!" This was not in a dark and malicious way. Oh, no. They weren't twiddling their thumbs and had babies lined up to fill their dreadful and maniacal chorus about a crazy woman who wants to hunt shiny balls with her two friends in Final Fantasy Job Cosplay outfits! Nope, just that "whaa."

Gawd, did I hate that "Whaa."

And suddenly, every track seemed to scream at me about how it wasn't a real Final Fantasy, about how things are different, but I shrugged it off, and thought, I can do this. You loved this game! I had noticed the strange sound before, but I never fully processed it. I tried to shrug it off and move on, marching toward some awesome moments I remember from I was younger from either playing  through myself or watching my younger brother play (which I do admit is how I was first exposed to it). However children... there is something called pushing it too far. I lasted about another ten minutes before I set foot on the Thunder Plains, thinking that I'd get some side quests done and that'd put me in a better mood.

I was terribly wrong.

I'm in Chapter 2 and some lazy ass guy is all like, "Oh there's so many towers, why don't you calibrate them by dancing and I'll go rest at an inn, Kay?" Well, my name's not Kay you lazy son of a bitch! He doesn't actually say that, but he may as well have. Bastard didn't even bother to help! He just complained about how annoying it was, leaving the second he found a pigeon to do it for him.

Once again I shrugged it off, thinking it wouldn't be too bad. I started the minigame and low and behold the sound to meet my ear was FUCKING ELEVATOR MUSIC!!
I don't even. How do you go from this.

To This.

                                                                               Just re-listening to it has made my eye twitch with fury!

There were about twenty of those damned towers. I put the game down after the first. For many people, the game's bubblegum and pop-nature makes it a laughable addition to the Final Fantasy franchise. It isn't very serious a majority of the time, and what is serious is hard to take seriously when you had just heard music with babies crying in it minutes before. Naturally, I'm being a bit facetious. I don't hate the game, but I'm going to draw the line for now at elevator music with a big HELL NO. Perhaps when I'm over it I'll finish the game and give some more of my thoughts, but for now I feel like the music is a bastardization of the brilliant pieces of the past.

Music is a key component of a really good game. It makes it memorable for me, and I have a horrible track record of having played most Final Fantasies, loving the series deeply, BUT NEVER FINISHING!! (I've got 2, 3 and 13 as actually being beaten) You know why? The stories are great, but more than that, the music is just plain awesome! Nevermind that tedious battle system. Even that Final Fantasy XIII mess has AMAZING music, at least in the first, and only, game that I've played so far, but Final Fantasy X-2? It has some good stuff, but a lot of it is bland and uneventful, or just plain strange. I just don't understand. They could have put out a story and atmosphere that could have rocked as much as the first! Granted, there are parts that stand out, such as when you first visit Zanarkand and Yuna is devastated about it essentially being turned into an amusement park... but then they did this. Why, Just why.

But fear not! I'll leave you with a few songs of what I consider to be the best of the Final Fantasy Franchise (there are so many, and I'd be hesitant to call these the top three, but HEY LISTEN!!) Enjoy!