Category: Playstation 1

Final Fantasy VIII and silent film aesthetic

I’ve been playing the original Final Fantasy VII for the first time and it reminded me of this post about Final Fantasy VIII’s sound design that I wrote but never published back in 2018. (Why, I don’t know. I suppose because it lacked a profound conclusion I felt it “not worthy”? Silly of me in hindsight.)

All of the Playstation era (and earlier) Final Fantasies have a silent/pre-talkie era film quality to them. There are surprisingly few sound effects outside of battle, and no voice acting whatsoever throughout. One of the most unusual features of the series’ sound design is the total absence of sound during on-screen dialogue. It was and still is a common device in videogames without voice acting to have a sound effect during dialogue… why? I don’t know, to be honest. Sometimes noises indicate who is talking, with an indistinct voice gurgle to represent each character. In games of yesteryear where the sound effect don’t change between different speakers, the purpose was less clear.

In any case, the effect of doing away with any text scroll/dialogue sound effects is a lot like watching a silent film, where title cards showed text and dialogue against music. It means these games relied a lot on Uematsu’s score, and thank goodness then these soundtracks are so strong and so varied. Continue reading

Console modding: Sega Saturn and PlayStation

I’ve always shied away from the topic of console mods. Perhaps because it’s the kind of discussion that can result in bannings from forums and websites, auctions being shut down on eBay, that sort of thing. It’s a legal grey area – not the act of modding itself, but what modding can allow for. At the risk of indicting myself, I’m writing about it here because I find it to be an interesting topic that I hear and read little about in mainstream circles. So to begin with, let’s talk about what modifications are out there, and why someone might want to modify their console in the first place, and then I’ll talk a bit about my modded Saturn and PlayStation. Continue reading

How I lost control, part 2

I detailed my gripes with the Dualshock controllers waaay back when in part one, so if you want to know more about my quest for a Dualshock-killer, go read that. Now then, here’s my long overdue review round-up of three Dualshock alternatives. All of these were purchased with the intention of replacing the Dualshock and its tragic excuse for a directional pad. So, to put these controllers to the test I played a pair of classic PS1 shoot ’em ups, Gradius Gaiden and Harmful Park, that require pixel perfect moves with a d-pad. Continue reading

How I lost control, part 1

I honestly can barely stand the Dualshock line of controllers. Hate is too strong a word, but I’m definitely Dualshock-averse. When I want to play a multi-platform game, I’ll nearly always avoid the Playstation consoles: I’ll pick the Saturn port over the PS1, Gamecube or Xbox over PS2, and Wii or Wii U over PS3, purely based on controller preference. Replacing the Dualshock has become my obsession lately, and I’m writing this post to share my journey. If I can help even one person through their own Dualshock nightmare, then it’s been worth it. Continue reading

The best games I didn’t blog about in 2016, part 1

Last year there were some absolute corkers that I didn’t write about, incredible stuff that was all the more tragic for the lack of dedicated blog posts: Sky Odyssey (PS2), Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii), Metroid: Other M (Wii), Trauma Team (Wii), Dragon Force (Saturn), the list goes on. By comparison, this year has burnt a little less brightly. It’s not that the games haven’t been good – they have been. Apart from a few exceptions though, they’ve not left as deep an impression, not cut me to the core, in the same way as the absurd theatrical masterpiece that is Disaster: Day of Crisis. These are some of the most wonderful (and weird) games I played last year. Continue reading