Shin

Guardian Cross

Guardian Cross is a great new game for iPhone & iPad by Square Enix, well worth checking out for Final Fantasy and card game fans alike.
Quests, player vs player, monster hunting for rare cards, it’s got it all.
Hiroyuki Ito, the creator of the Final Fantasy ATB system, is the lead concept planner for Guardian Cross. Composer Naoshi Mizuta and character designer Akira Oguro round out the all-star development team.

For a limited time, players can receive rare limited edition cards including moogles, mandragoras, Ifrit and other classic monsters from Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV by inviting friends to play Guardian Cross.
If you do decide to check it out (it’s free so hell yeah) enter invitation ID SI57028 when you first start the game and we’ll both get a rare card!

Final Fantasy XIII – Lightning

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates


Console: Nintendo DS
Developer: Square Enix
No. of Players: 1- 4 (Multi-player Wireless Connection)
Publisher: D3 Publisher
Release Date: March 21, 2008 (Europe), March 11, 2008 (U.S.), August 23, 2007 (Japan)
Rating: E/+10 – Fantasy Violence

Story

In a small quaint village of the Veo Lu Highlands lived various members of tribes in harmony. A bird-like yuke, a sweetly childish alchemist of Lilty and a devoted father of two twins named Yuri and Chelinka. Together, the twins wielded an mysterious and binding power that their father taught them to harness. One dreadful night, when the moon rose a blood red, their serene lifestyle was torn a part. The story truly begins here as the brave young twins venture out to seek answers and justice.

Presentation – 8/10

I would love to say that the story was genuinely fulfulling but my palette was left with dull colours by the time I reached the end of the game. One could argue and say the need for ‘more’ meant that it was presented well but I think my need for ‘more’ was mostly on the notion that I had been spoiled by previous Final Fantasy games in sense of quantity and an in depth story line. I was stunned by the 3D CG but there weren’t as many villages or other places to visit as I would’ve liked.

Sound – 9.5/10

Close your eyes and think of the adjective ethereous. The opening main screen theme was magical and midst playing the sound and music set the mood. It was very well done and I honestly haven’t anything bad to say about it. There wasn’t a recognizable song or theme to tell you ‘this is Final Fantasy – Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates’. It was more like the subtle fluidity of Final Fantasy’s origins. Back in those days, the franchise didn’t need a pre-eminent song due to its masterful gameplay.

Control – 7/10

While adventuring, you have the advantage of toogling from one party member to the next depending on the obstacle or boss difficulty. While most of the time this could be seen as a good thing, it became increasingly frustrating when my other AI party members were unresponsive during battle or when I would try to reach a hard to get treasure chest. Other than that, the control options were smooth and easy to pick up.

Gameplay – 8/10

There are two modes to choose from – Story Mode and Multiplay Mode. Story Mode is only for single playing. You can toggle from one character to the next as you fight your way onto the next adventure. In Multiplay Mode you and up to four other people are able to create your own character. There are many different ways to play in this mode. There is also a side mode called Moogles, where you can receive Moogle Stamps, paint your own Moogle and trade moogles between friends. The gameplay is also much like FFX-2 where it becomes a hack’em ‘n slash’em thing. For those who enjoy that type of RPG play instead of the strategical turn waiting, it meets nearly all your expectations.

Graphics – 8.5/10

The CG is absolutely staggering. Over the years, Final Fantasy has dabbled with several different artistic representations of their games. Crystal Chronicles likens itself most to FFIX in the sense of an almost childlike/cartoony approach. The cutscenes are short and for the sake of the story I would have enjoyed more of them.

Final Score – 8.2

Crystal Chronicles was fun and hard to put down once I got into the game. There were a few things that upset me but even with those frustrations I would still say it’s a game to look into. I still have yet to enjoy it’s said vast wonders of Multiplayer.

Kingdom Hearts II

Console: Playstation 2
Developer: Square Enix
No. of Players: 1
Publisher: Buena-Vista Games
Release Date: March 28, 2006

Kingdom Hearts 2

Story
90/100

3 years after the events of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories, we meet a character called Roxas–who vaguely resembles Sora. Roxas lives in a place called Twilight Town with his friends (we don’t see any parents but we do find out that they do in fact go to school as the game takes place during their summer break). Roxas’s is pretty happy with his life, everything is going fine until strange things start to happen. Out of the blue things start to disappear and mysterious white creatures begin to show up. Little does Roxas and his friend know but Roxas is in the middle of all the bizarre things that are happening. Soon Roxas finds himself fighting the mysterious white creatures with a mysterious blade–one that looks identical to Sora’s keyblade, even though Sora hasn’t made an appearance in the game yet. What’s even stranger for those of you that played and remember is that Sora is the only one who can yield the Keyblade. Eventually fighting the white creatures leads Roxas to Sora in some sort of deep sleep. Not knowing who Sora is, Roxas frees him and Kingdom Hearts II really starts.

Sora, Donald, and Goofy wake up in a new world that they have never been to before. Roxas’ world (Roxas at this point is no longer the playable character. “Booo, he had such nice hair!”. They quickly get an update on what’s been happening since the events in Castle Oblivion and the first opening of Kingdom Hearts (especially since Sora lost his memories of what happened) from King Mickey’s magical instructor. The new white creatures that are attacking are called Nobodies. They are result of when a Heartless is destroyed by the Keyblade or when a powerful-strong willed person gives into the Darkness. Nobodies have no hearts but unlike Heartless they have no of an individual conscience. A group of powerful Nobodies have been formed. They call themselves Organization XIII. They control all the Nobodies and have control of the Heartless. They seem to be up to something to collect as many hearts as possible. At the same time Sora, Donald, and Goofy find out that the Heartless are back and causing trouble again.

Sora, Donald and Goofy team up again to defeat the Heartless, save the worlds, and uncover the plan behind Organization XIII and stop them. And on top of all of that they are still looking for Rikku, Kairi, and King Mickey.

Storyline Commentary

Overall the story line this time around is much more Kingdom Hearts focussed than it is Disney. The main plot is around original characters rather than retold Disney stories. Still at the same time Disney is at the corner stone–which has its pros and cons. The game could be split into two separate arches: the Disney Arch and the Kingdom Hearts Arch. Much of the Disney parts in the game aren’t connected to the story very much or at all. Where as in Kingdom Hearts the entire story was about the Diseny Princesses and saving them. Most of story-line development scenes takes place in two towns: Twilight Town and Hallow Bastion–which has had an major upgrade from the old Kingdom Hearts days. So the majority of the parts where you play along Disney Character is purely just for show and doesn’t really have much to do with anything else. At most you play go into Disney world’s to get rare items, fight Heartless/Nobodies, and because you are forced to. I’ve actually reached the end of the game and I neglected Alantis because I hate to swim and fight. This hurts the game in some respects because you begin to feel as if you are wasting your time–when what you do has pretty much no impact on the overall story and you feel as if you are being forced to play a side quest rather than take on the actual story.

Gameplay
85/100

Gameplay has changed a lot since Kingdom Hearts. In many ways it has improved the fluidity of gameplay and in other ways it has reduced game play while in battle to button smashing–which isn’t very expected of a RPG.

Standard Battle
This is where Kingdom Hearts takes on its most Action genre-face. Battles can be long and require quick thinking rather than strategy. For anyone that can remember the special moves from Kingdom Hearts like “Raganok” or “Archainim” (by the way those are gone to the best of my knowledge), well action commands like that have become crucial to gameplay if not absolutely essential. The “Reaction Command” is probably the most important thing you’ll have to know about Kingdom Hearts II. Throughout battle(s) you’ll see the triangle button flash above your command menu this is telling you that you can do a special reaction to a specific enemy if you press it at the right time. Also combos have become much easier and much more crucial than before.

It’s much more action based than last time. It pushes the real time battle system and it’s good. It makes the game seem more action/adventure than RPG but it’s a good change. Many of the moves from the previous game have been buffed up. For example the “Trinity” ability is more powerful and your spells do more damage; however, the develop in different ways. You can customize Sora, Donald, Goffy and others much more in dept this time. Even designating which ability you want them to use. It’s becomes important in certain battles and it can help you level up in others.

Like in Kingdom Hearts you have the ability to summon special character to help you in battle. However, unlike in Kingdom Hearts, summoning is pretty much a waste of time. First of all you will only have 4 characters to summon and all of their abilities aren’t very helpful to you in battle. Along with your summon power you still have magic. Using magic in KHII is much easier than it was in KH. First off once you run out of MP it will begin to automatically replenish itself–which means if you can hold on for a few seconds you won’t have to use an Either or Elixer. Your magic can be boosted by equipping yourself with certain abilities and you also have a ton more synthesis items to boost magic.

All this aside the greatest addition to the battle feature in Kingdom Hearts II has to be the form ability. Early on in the game Sora receives a new outfit–since he outgrew his old one–and with the new clothes come new abilities. The form ability allows Sora to change into a special form other than his default. He still looks the same, although in a different color, but he has more abilities depending on the form he’s in. Each form has a speciality in something and a weakness in something else, and each form requires your partners Donald and Goffy. An interesting twist is that the forms level up differently. It all depends in on the form. One form levels with each heartless killed and another with the amount of special orbs you collect like in that form. You can beat the game without using any of the forms; however, each form has a “growth” ability attached to it that will help Sora (default Sora) in battle. If players of the former game can remember gaining the ability to glide at a certain point in the story, well that’s gone now, you now have to level up your Final Form to glide. It might seem like a waste of time but trust me it pays off tremendously in the end.

Gummi Ship
I personally think the Gummi Ship feature suffered the most in KHII. It’s pretty bad. First off the camera is horrible and it’s pretty much boiled down to button smashing–in fact that statement could be applied to most of the game however I will retain that information for later. Gummi Ship battles seems more like a old fashion arcade game in 3-D, where all you do is shoot so you don’t get hit. You can only more left, right and dash anyway. The camera is preset to rotate so you don’t have any control of that either. Also, while in the first KH the worlds you traveled in the Gummi Ship seemed bizarre in KHII that feeling in amplified by a 100. It’s just chaotic everything about the Gummi Ship this time. Whatever new feature the developers tried to implement to make it seem more exciting did them no good as the entire process is tedious, annoying and wasteful. Luckily you don’t have to do much of it. All you have to do is clear the original mission (merely make it to the ending) you won’t have to do it again, unless you want to unlock more things but it pretty much doesn’t do you any good.

Role-Playing
I can sum up saying that KHII has taken two steps forward and one step back in terms of role playing. While the environment in KHII is much better, visually, than it was in Kingdom Hearts it’s much smaller. You won’t be doing much exploring and having fun leveling up because their simply isn’t any place to do it. The worlds aren’t as large as the others and the majority of space that you have is only meant for fighting. And what there is to explore usually bland and boring. The game seems to be tailored for you to just finish it. The mini games and sidequest all finish up easily and quickly–actually the majority of the sidequest aren’t that interesting.

Many of the sidequest aren’t very rewarded once you’ve completed them, and I’m not even talking rewards as in prizes, I’m talking about you the player feeling like you just wasted your time popping balloons.

The game appears to be making the transition from a Action RPG to a Action Adventure with RPG features. The game really comes down to level up and defeating bosses. However as dull as that sounds the game makes that the level up process interesting by adding new twist such as form changes and other tid bits.

Graphics
80/100

Graphics might have had a bit of a boost since Kingdom Hearts but it’s not really noticeable or much of an improvement. Their seems to be fewer cut scenes so the game doesn’t really get much time to show off the graphics. Still just because the graphics aren’t stunning better than Kingdom Hearts I that doesn’t mean it was bad. Kingdom Hearts’ graphics were amazing and so are KHII.

Music
80/100

If you thought it wasn’t possible to trump “Simple and Clean” as the opening song think again. Utada Hikaru delivers another smashing hit with “Sanctuary”. The opening were enough to reassure me that Kingdom Hearts II was going to be a sweet game to play. I guess the saying is right, the right kind of music does set the tone.
Anyway.
Being that Kingdom Hearts is a partnership with Disney you can expect to hear the background music of some of the Disney classic. The “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E” song made an appearance in the game too. Overall the music isn’t bad. It’s very much like the Kingdom Hearts with a few improvements here and there. Donald’s squeaky voice still makes me laugh though and that’s a good thing.

Controls
80/100

The game overall is a lot of button smashing so being able to smash those buttons is essential. Kingdom Hearts does this okay. Your command menu (located in the bottom left corner of the screen) and there are “two” sides to it each side has different options and while it’s just a button away to turn to the other side that’s a second you can put somewhere else. The difference between using your Limits and your Drives could decide a battle for you. However if you’re just going to be smashing the X-button to attack you might actually be okay.

Camera
80/100

The camera is pretty standard. You have a wide view, so you can see a lot of the battlefield. The camera also rotates very smoothly so you can quickly find enemies that slipped away. Also when you lock on to a target the camera will automatically shift and fallow that enemy. This is good and bad depending on the amount of enemies you are facing. Also you might not target the enemy you want to so that might mess up your Mo-Jo.

Personal Thoughts

An amazing game overall. Their were some draw backs. The most obvious being how easy this game was beat. I’m the type of person that takes a while to finish because my overall gameplaying ability is rather sluggish, but I had no difficulty. It’s possible to beat this game on level 40-50, which is pretty pathetic compared to the 50-60 range needed to beat the last game. Also there aren’t that many enemies to defeat, and, if any, as your progress and get stronger they offer less experience. Nobodies are a good way to level up but after a certain point it gets repetitive going back to the same place doing the same thing. While KH was a difficult game for some (e.g. myself) this game is way too easy and goes by very fast because of it. However just in general the game is very easy and quick. I was surprised how fast it all went by.

Now many fans will like to hear this: the game overall is more Kingdom Hearts as its own story arc than it is focused on Diseny. If fans can remember the original story in Kingdom Hearts was focused on the Disney Princesses (Jasmin, Belle, Snow White, Cinderella, etc) not so much Sora’s own story, although that was the focus later on in the game. Since the story in this game is mostly about Sora reconnecting with his friends Riku and Kairi the Disney Arc takes the back seat. The majority of actual story development happens in Hallow Bastion and Twilight Town (a new town to this game); however, to ensure that Disney characters remains a main part to the game is setup to make it that the other (Disney) worlds are means of unlocked pieces of the story. So for example you’ll have to finish Olympus, Agrabah, and Pridelands to each the next point in the story.

A lot of the Disney story lines are original story lines that would happen between the sequel and original story of a Disney movies, for example the Pridelands story line happens between The Lion King and The Lion King II and somewhere between The Lion King 1/2. So maybe it’s The Lion King 3/4 I don’t really know, but I hope you get my point. This is cool because you feel as if you are having a part in the actual story. There are also other worlds/storylines where’s following the actual story line of the movie. And finally there are some story line lines in Disney worlds that are totally original.

The main draw back to how the story is developed is the fact that, to be honest, the Disney story lines become somewhat bothersome. Sometimes it feels as if you are being forced to go through a stage. This is mainly because the story line in the stages aren’t very interesting and you really don’t want to play through them but you have to.

Okay I’m going to stop being a “debbie-downer”.
What makes this game great? Hmmm

Well for one the battle are much more interesting than in Kingdom Hearts. The new form changes are really interesting to develop and the make your overall kickass experience much more, well, kickass! The new features and enhancements makes you want to try them out all. Also this is a small new feature but still a very cool one, if you put it to good use: the synthesis feature. Synthesis, while it might not seem like the greatest thing in the world, really makes the game much more interesting because you basically go hunting for items and gems. And you get a much larger array of items to make. It’s easier to use and much more useful than it was in Kingdom Hearts.

And finally the one thing that makes this game great is the story. The story is radically different from Kingdom Hearts. Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories would help you understand the general story line a bit better but it’s not necessary. There are a lot of plot twist that change the story and characters from the original Kingdom Hearts. KIngdom Hearts II story line is also interesting because of the fact that it has its own characters and own storyline, not a glump of different story line’s from Disney movies thrown together. Introducing new beings like Nobodies gives the game a breath of fresh air while still remain the same game with the same original core characters.

Do I think this is the best game ever!? Nope, but it’s a great sequel to Kingdom Hearts and the few flaws that exist aren’t major ones, and the new features are all really good.

Overall
90/100

By Cherubim

Final Fantasy X-2

Game Title: Final Fantasy X-2
Console: Playstation 2
No. of Players: 1
Release Date: Nov 2003 (USA)
Genre: RPG
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Age: Teen

Story
90/100
After defeating Sin (FF X) Yuna’s mission as a summorer is done and peace has returned to the land of Spira. She joined her cousin Rikku and became part of the Guilwings, a group of sphere hunters that travel the land of sphere in search of rare spheres about Spira’s past that they can sell the highest bidder. Yuna stills has dreams about visions about a mysterious handsome young man that she can’t seem to place her finger on. Joing the Guilwings takes Yuna many places across Spira and often times she bumbs into the Guilwings rival the Syndicate, which is headed by the sexy LeBlanc. LeBlanc is more bark than bite so it doesn’t bother Yuna and crew too much. However the Calm, the period after Sin was destroyed and peace in Spira was suppose to be the new black as its called, is being threated by two groups that both have their idea of how to run things New Yevon and Bevile, which is under new leadership; as these two groups clash all of Spira looks as it’s headed back into war. A mysterious machine is rumored to be beneath Bevile and both groups claim the right to it. Yuna doesn’t seem to get any peace and once again she’s summoned to save Spira from destruction by fiends and such and put an end to the feud between Bevile and New Yevon.

Final Fantasy X-2 screenshotGameplay
95/100
You will play as Yuna and you’ll recieve infomation from Brother about new spheres or places that need the Guilwings assestance. You’ll be beamed down and have to fix whatever went wrong. That’s really it in a nut shell but it’s much more complicated–I just don’t have that level of vocabulary to describe well enough. The missions you’ll have to complete and range from a lot of things, from defeating fiends to catch a Chocoboo–damn bird! Now to give you some freedom the game is set up but certain “points” that once completed you go onto another part of the story; however, you don’t have to do that right away. Instead you can go to several different areas of Spira and see what’s going on there–ya never now you might get a dresssphere. Now this is an RPG so you’ll have to level up and not just loaf around all day (but I wanna). As you explore Spira you will often fall into random battles, which you have the option of escaping sometimes, while you explore the land of Spira as Yuna when in battle you are aided by her two sexy team mates Rikku and Paine (sexy! Cool) You have control over each character and can have them perfom different tasks. You can also have them change dresspheres mid-battle which is good when you’re fighting certain fiends/enemies that would be defeated easier in other dressphere. Much of the games focus is one the dresspheres, which are customs that have certain attributes and powers attached to each. Now the Dressphere cover a board range of things, from a Alchemist to a (scared animal) Trainer. Now most dressphere can be used by all the girls, but there are also special dresspheres that each girl has which you have to find somewhere in Spira. Now the dresspheres have abilities that you’ll have to unlock and that’s by getting AP points after you defeat the bad guys. Either way experimenting with Dresspheres is the best to find you favorites and better than just staying with the default dresspheres.

Graphics
95/100
The graphics in this game are awesome. Now only are the cutscenes to-die-for, literally, but the game play itself is pretty wild. The Land of Spira is pretty big except for the islands, which you must fly too, you can go from one part of Spira and walk to the next (I suggest you put on the charm bangle to avoid battle encounters and just enjoy the scenery). During gameplay the graphics aren’t so well but still top notch. It’s Final Fantasy so you kind of expect these things to go without say. The best part are when there are those in-game cutscenes.

Controls & Camera
85/100 (Please don’t hurt me!)
There really isn’t much complexity in terms of controls and certainly not the camera function, and really for this game there is no real reason for it to be. While exploring you play as Yuna, you use the dialog stick or direction pad. You press “X” for “Yes” and “O” for “cancel”, see not complicated at all. The camera is automatic, while you’re exploring you have an overview of the area around you, you can’t focus in or out–which is somewhat of a let down; the same during battle, often the camera will just change positions focusing in on something else. Overall it isn’t bad at all and still pretty much something you won’t notice or really want to change–unless of course you’re some kind of pervert that wants to get a closer peek at Paine in that Lady Luck costume. XD

Sounds & Music
95/100
The music in this game is awesome, and I’m not just talking about one of the many performances by Yuna on stage–those are breathless. The background music is pretty cool and epic sometimes and other times it’s pretty laid back, all depends on the enviroment you’re in. The character voices are all pretty interesting, mastering the Al Bed language was a challenge but it was fun when I could understand what Rikku was saying.

Replayability
100/100
All RPGs try their best to take the role playing experiance a memorable one, well Final Fantasy X-2 does an awesome job. There is so much to do in this game that you might not finish it all in one run, which is good because there is the New Game Plus option, which allows you to start over the game with 99% (I made that up on the spot) of your items and dresspheres and the amount of percent you’ve completed (currently I’m at 89% and I started over about 3 times now, I just can’t get Episode Complete in that stage–Damnit!) so all you have to do is go back and do what you didn’t the last time around. There are A LOT of sidequest in this game, so much so that I can’t name them all off for you, but I’ll say this you’ll be busy for a while. Now you don’t have to do the sidequest, that’s kind of why they are called sidequest, but really it’s the side quest that make this game better than a most. You don’t have to do all you could just do some and be content, but you’ll miss out on a lot of options.

Overall
95/100
Being the first ever real sequal in Final Fantasy history Final Fantasy X-2 took on a dimension of its own, it didn’t just stay with the story but formed it owned just used characters from a previous one. A lot of the things are different and for the most part you feel as if you’re playing another game, the game doesn’t make to many references to the previous game so you won’t feel lost. The game keeps you busy a long while, with an interesting story with several plot twist (the biggest one at the ending), and the sidequest will keep you busy when you just want something to do. If you’re just looking to continue playing the same format you did in FF X you might be in for a disappointment or two, because the game does branch away from its predisessor. I must admit the new game feature was much fun since I was able to go back and beat up bosses that use to kill me in an instant with items you couldn’t normally get until Chapter 5. Twisted Evil There is a lot to do in this game and a lot of interesting to unlock and defeat. The basic storyline is pretty easy to get through but in some of the sidequest it will really push you and challenge you to defeat them all. Great game all around.

By Cherubim

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories



Game Title:
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
Date Launched: 12/07/04
No. of Players: 1
Console: Game Boy Advance
Difficulty: Medium
Genre: RPG
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Rating: General

Game Play
85/100
Chain of Memories is certainly unique in it’s approach to game play, rather than just have it be a simple slash and jump game the implemented a bizarre card system. It’s rather hard to describe how it works; it really is just trial and error. A player uses cards–which each hold a certain attribute–to attack, heal, and do a variety of things, a player can create combos that when done correctly can do even greater things that alone (the power of team work). The battles themselves are quite different than in Kingdom Hearts for the PS2, in Chain of Memories when the player is approached or attacks an enemy they are switched to a battle field type scenario then the battle begins in real time. The battles are fast due to the fact that a player must concentrate of what cards will be drawn next from his/her deck and at the same time be ready to counter the enemies move. In order to do this well it takes a lot of practice, or you could just wing and just keep clicking the A button and pray that you win. Once outside of the battle “field” the player can walk and open doors, which can only be open through “Key Cards” and open crates that might contain revive your health. The cool thing is you are free to use whatever Key Card(s) you want to open doors as long as they fulfill that doors value requirement. Chain of Memories takes gaming in different directions by implemented new ways of game play, it will take you a while to fully grasp the new concept but it will get easier as you progress.

Graphics
90/100
Kingdom Hearts has been known for stunning people with cool graphics and Chain of Memories doesn’t disappoint. The graphics in this game is very well done–it’s like playing with a tiny Sora. I’m very pleased with this, because every characters looks different instead of the game sprite with color variations that we are all use too in RPG on portable consoles. Definitely plan on being stunned by the graphics when you play.

Controls
80/100
The GBA has a control pad, with four basic directions, the game play is in 3-D–this could be problem. I’ve played this game and I haven’t seen any north-south axis scene/area that I can think of, everything is diagonal. It takes some getting use, but it isn’t too bad. The Battle fields are Left-Right but even then you are playing in 3-D world, enemies are dodging moving around, again it takes some getting use. Chain of Memories is the type of game that will give all the time and practice you need to handle everything so don’t worry if you might not seem to get it right away.

Sounds & Music
85/100
The amazing Utada Hikaru’s hit song “Simple and Clean” gracing it’s presence on us once again. But the music doesn’t stop there (remember this is Disney we are talking about) the music during and outside battle is simply, “kewl.” Probably the best music for a hand held game that I’ve come across in years. It certainly won’t bore you to just pump up the volume and listen.

Story
85/100
Right after the events of KH, Sora, Donald and Goofy have found themselves in the Castle of Oblivion, a place where memories and dreams intertwine with the present. The Crew, while still on the search for King Mickey and Riku, now finds themselves in the hands of a mysterious group of cloaked warriors. Sora, who has been separated from Goofy and Donald and are only able to summon them in battle, must go deep inside his memories and himself, and find the courage to make it out of Castle Oblivion alive.

Replayability
90/100
There isn’t a focus on completing the deck or anything, the cards themselves really aren’t that important–which makes you wonder why they added them in the first place. What makes this game so amazing replayable is the fact that you get to as Riku when you are done with Sora. Yay! That alone should be enough for you.

Overall
85/100
With its unique version of game play, a cool story (especially for die hard fans of the PS2 game), amazing music and so many more things. Chain of Memories is certainly one for the ages. Sequels to games (especially when the sequel will be on another console) are aimed for a selected audience, and probably best so. If you are just in the mood for a good game, you could pick this up and go “Wow this is great” but you’ll have to go through the process of learning a complicated battling system. So it’s safe to say that Chain of Memories is aimed towards Kingdom Hearts fans. Chain of Memories is certainly pushing the limits on what hand held games can and cannot do. The only major downside is that there is nothing new to this, besides the Castle of Oblivion and the mysterious cloaked fellows you are basically going back though all the old worlds from Kingdom Hearts with a few twist but nothing major. I can assume that Chain of Memories is the stepping stone between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2, Chain of Memories is probably there to connect the dots between the two games, since many of the new characters that will be in KH 2 make their appearance in Chain of Memories, and that’s enough for KH fans for me. If you liked KH and want to dig deeper into the mind of Sora and Riku, and find out what’s going on with Mickey I suggest picking this us. It won’t make everything clear but it will certainly a few clouds out of the way.

By Cherubim

Final Fantasy Pray (Vocal Collection)

Final Fantasy Pray (Vocal Collection)
Final Fantasy Pray (Vocal Collection)
distributed by: SquareEnix
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Vocals: Risa Ohki

INTRO: Final Fantasy Pray, a vocal collection of familiar Final Fantasy pieces in vocal arrangement, showcases the vocal talents of Risa Ohki singing in Japanese, English, French, and Spanish – possibly Portugese – accompanied by Nobuo Uematsu’s orchestrations of his own compositions.

1 – Prelude (3:48)
A capella vocals enchant, literally, the listener right into the arms of a harp playing the familiar Final Fantasy prelude. The vocals don’t float quite as well as the harp and it doesn’t move very far either, revolving prettily in one spot. But the harmonies and a fade out of the music set up for everything to come perfectly, like any prelude should.

Verdict: play

2 – The Promised Land – Main Theme from Final Fantasy II (5:29)
Ohki’s vocals create an extremely bold first impression with this song. Her voice holds subtle beauty and power that commands the lyrics in the clear manner an oracle would present a fate upon a person who seeks her counsel. In the second verse, her voice is almost tender and sweet, if not doting, but does not lose any strength. Light percussion in the background creates a perpetual forward feeling that is amplified by the flute echoing the voice.

Verdict: repeat

3 – Mon P’tit Chat – Music Box Song from FFV (3:11)
Light and bouncy, this piece starts of with a familiarly genuine video game feel by using synthesized strings in the opening. The lyrics to this song are ridiculously charming and cute. Sadly, the synthesizer’s tinkly sound gives the song a thin ground, but a noticeably happy accordian projects bubbles of euphoria all over the place to keep the song alive, until, at last, a jazzy piano breezes the piece into a satisfying end.

Verdict: play

4 – Toki no Hourousha (Wanderer of Time) – Terra’s Theme from FFVI (4:05)

“Toki no Hourosha” is all the beauty and magic of Final Fantasy music gracefully embodied in 4 breathtaking minutes of pure genius. Given, Terra’s Theme was a gorgeous piece to begin with, but the opening of a flute playing over heavy percussion, light military rap, low strings, and harp warns you: this will not be like any other gorgeous piece you’ve ever heard. And it isn’t. Uematsu’s orchestration does not disappoint. As a friend so eloquently described it, “it’s unbelievable”. Soaring strings pull the listener right in as Ohki’s vocal harmonies trap the ears with her rather amazing power to project such force and strength in her singing. It overflows with grandeur. Unfortunately, a fade-out ending leaves the listener dangling, wanting more, and wishing it wasn’t over. That is, until they hear the intro to the next song.

Verdict: repeat

5 – Hikari no Nakahe (Into the Light) – Theme of Love from FFIV(5:24)
In a move of extremely well done production, the opening trill of the strings immediately lifts the listener out of any sort of disappointment of the fading effect of loveliness left by the previous song and right into another work of magic. This piece is not as powerful as the previous and instead plays out like the calm after a storm. Ohki’s voice is lighter here, but dripping with emotion, as it sings its melancholy melody of heartbreak. At certain pivotal points, her voice even sounds like it’s sobbing. At the end of the song, the title of the piece becomes very appropriate as the strings, harp, and delicate piano float off what could just be the light in a heavenly resolution.

Verdict: repeat

6 – Esperanca Do Amor – Dear Friends from FFV (3:44)

A delicate Portugese guitar and flute propel the song into a jazzy take of Dear Friends from FFV. The marimba adds a soft feathery touch and keeps things swinging with the flute while the guitar dances behind floaty but spirited vocals singing a lively and sunny tune. It’s a very simple song and extremely well presented.

Verdict: repeat

7 – Voyage – Endless Ocean from FFIII (4:26)
Uematsu brings back the formula he used upon Terra’s Theme for “Toki no Horousha” in this piece. Strong vocals over strings that soar or keep a light tattoo. It doesn’t quite hold the same majesty as previous pieces, but the string motifs running on behind the lilting, a little less powerful than before vocals, and the orchestral interlude in the middle featuring more beautiful string work makes this one worth a repeat.

Verdict: repeat

8 – Au Palais De Verre (In the Palace of Glass) – Montoya’s Cave from FFI (4:26)
This song is definitely the most optimistic of the collection. The lyrics fit the tune of Montoya’s Cave perfectly. It’s a cheery and bouyant tune with dainty percussion in the back. Comparatively, Ohki’s vocals aren’t as convincing as the song doesn’t require her to sing at what we’ve already seen as the full potential of her voice, but they still create just the right atmosphere for the song.

Verdict: play

9 – Once You Meet Her – Maiden of the Water from FFIII (4:17)

A simple flute accompanied by harp tenderly introduces the main melody for this intoxicating piece. Gentle strings in simple 3/4 waltz beat keep the song moving. The alluring, marvelous vocals and flute trade off while Ohki’s lyrics are clear and pronounced as if telling a story, but instead of just reciting, it weaves an entrancing spell of music. When she reaches the peak of each verse, you can’t help but get chills from how elegantly exquisite this song is.

Verdict: repeat

10 – Pray – Final Fantasy theme (4:35)
The synth strings in beginning cast don’t create much of an effect or draw-in again for a beginning of a piece. The theme and melody have been morphed into balladic march that is embellished by Ohki’s dazzling vocals and well-defined harmonies. This song is noticeably poppier than the others in its persistant percussion. A strange almost new-age sounding guitar interlude takes a bit of the strength that the vocals have built up from the start, and pull power from the song, but it manages to settle comfortably into its ending.

Verdict: play

11 – Nao Chora Menina (Don’t Cry, Little Girl) – Kids Run Through the City Corner from FFVI (3:57)
The entire song is a touching combination of voice and acoustic guitar. After a power-piece like “Pray”, this song takes on a similar “calm after the storm” feeling that “Hikari no Naka E” did. Ohki’s vocals skillfully pamper the listener’s ears out of the music with a conclusion so smoothly and comfortably rendered that for a moment, right as the music ends, it feels that, for once, everything’s all right with the world. It’s simple beauty at its finest moment.

Verdict: repeat

FINAL VERDICT:There’s not enough words that can explain the near-perfection of this collection. Song transitions are seamless, the arrangements, presentation, and performances are flawless: this CD is art. Extremely highly recommended.

By kiyo-chan

Final Fantasy Unlimited

Ok, I have watched up to episode 11 of this series, and since that is about a half way point, i’m going to give a review so far.

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Name: Final Fantasy unlimited
Genre: Fantasy/Humour/Drama
number of episodes: 24

Plot = A-
Characters = B+
Music = A
Overall = A

Pre-show premise:
A giant dark pillar appears in the ocean off of Tokyo. Two huge beasts appear out of it, a red one with the head of a gun, and a white one with the head of a sword. They attack each other and both are destroyed. Joe and Marie Hayakawa, a geologist couple, are swallowed into the pillar and end up in a crazy place called the Inner World. They return safely after many adventures.

General Outlook:
Having been forced to see the godawful FF:Crystals anime, i was a tad leery about seeing Unlimited. I was, however, very pleasantly surprised.
It has all the hallmarks of Final Fantasy – a white magic user, a summoner/lone gunman type, a pseudo-convuluted storyline, even chocobos (who have a fondness for chocolate). It has so far been very enjoyable, with the only detraction being the odd mix of CGI in with hand-drawn animation – it looks a bit wrong. CG is used for singular things, such as Kaze’s gun, or the subway, but everything else is hand-drawn.

Music:
Decent, very decent. Doesn’t detract from the storyline, and the opening song is very catchy. The best part of the music – the traditional FF fanfare when a fight is won.

Characters:
The main characters of FF:U are four: two adults and two children (not counting the chocobo). Ai and Yu Hayakawa, the sister and her kid brother, have journeyed into the Inner World to find their parents, who did not return from their previous journey. Along the way they find Lisa, a scantily dressed mage who uses a power called kigenjutsu, or ‘genesis’, to manipulate the earth around her. She is mysterious about her reasons for travelling to the Inner World, and decides to protect Ai and Yu. While wandering thru the inner world, they find a man, sleeping, who cannot remember his name. Solitary and unconversational, they nickname him Kaze. he is the Demon Gunman, the Black WInd (hinthint ‘Kaze’), on a quest to find the Demon Swordsman, the White Cloud. They must battle the minions of the Inner Worlds Overlord, with the help of others along the way like the brilliant engineer Cid and the dauntless Chochobo.

My Thoughts(and spoilers):
So far, i’m happy. It gets ahold of you and is slightly addictive. ^^; i’ll give a full review upon completion.

By Kaitou

Final Fantasy X-2: Yuna

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.