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
I recently checked out an arranged album of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross music by the one and only Yasunori Mitsuda. Imagine my surprise to find that six of the ten tracks included on the album feature vocals, given that the original soundtracks – with one notable exception in Chrono Cross’s credits music – are entirely instrumental. I wouldn’t necessarily mind this, if these vocal tracks didn’t have English lyrics. Sadly, most of them do. And I’ve found it creates this strange effect of making some tracks feel like Disney songs. (Not hating on Disney by the way – they do great stuff.) At the very least the cheese factor goes up significantly. Continue reading
Panzer Dragoon Saga and Final Fantasy had a child and its name is Skies of Arcadia. (Actually, technically, Phantasy Star should replace Final Fantasy here since the Skies of Arcadia studio was made up of ex-Phantasy Star and ex-Panzer Dragoon staff. Without having played any Phantasy Star though, I feel more comfortable comparing this with Final Fantasy.) Nevertheless, this child of two franchises peddles more child-friendly content than either of its parents. The exploits of a few teenage Robin Hood-like pirates facing a cartoonishly evil empire covers most of the plot. As you might expect, there are definitely aspects of Skies of Arcadia Legends that are a bit formulaic and a little bland, especially in the story and characters. Continue reading
I’ve had a long history from Final Fantasy VIII. I played it when it first came out on PC only to get stuck somewhere on the third disc (in all fairness I was only 10 years old at the time). A few years later with a better grasp of VIII’s systems I started over and made it to the final boss. Here however I was defeated – beating the final boss’s various forms proved impossible. I was forced to download a save file from the internet with every characters’ stats maxed out just to see the ending. Over the years since I’ve played chunks of Final Fantasy VIII a couple of times, never to the end and more often than not just to enjoy Triple Triad. If only younger me had known that the game can essentially be played as an interactive novel – seriously! No random encounters, comfortably easy bosses and over-powered characters, and with little to no grinding at all! It’s the special, broken magic of FFVIII. Continue reading
Unlucky episode 13 is the first of a trio of podcasts dedicated to the Operation Rainfall games on Wii, namely The Last Story, Pandora’s Tower and Xenoblade Chronicles. In this mostly spoiler-free dissection of 2011’s The Last Story, we discuss everything from the game’s nods to Maya’s favourite game, Final Fantasy IX, to The Last Story’s integration of storytelling and gameplay, to its relatively short running time with some Resident Evil 4-esque quick pacing. We also find out what makes for a bleedin’ amazin’ localisation, and question the game’s limited exploration.
It turned out to be a particularly haphazard show, which suits this haphazard game! Even if it didn’t quite live up to our expectations of being the ultimate RPG, our final fantasy you might say, still, we hope you’ll tune in as we endeavour to pin down where The Last Story fell short despite the talent involved (Sakaguchi, Uematsu… Sakaguchi). Watch out for our next episode of the Very Very Gaming Show, in which we’ll be discussing the highly unusual Pandora’s Tower, also for Wii! And more English voice acting!
Episode 13: Operation Rainfall, The Last Story
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