Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘final fantasy

Podcast: The History of JRPGs Coming to the West

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This week Fred is again solo, but fear not because he will have his faithful companion Jam back for the next episode. This week he’s discussing the origins of the Japanese Role Playing Game or JRPG and the genre’s eventual journey to the West. From humble roots in the early 80s to the powerhouse genres of the 90s, it’s a wild and crazy road.


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Written by Fred Rojas

April 12, 2017 at 11:00 am

Dissecting Nintendo’s Famicom Classic Edition (Mini) Differences

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This week, Nintendo announced the Eastern component to the NES Classic Edition (or NES Mini) that most of us knew were coming.  Nintendo did allow some hands on time and offer new information on the NES Classic that will probably apply to the Famicom Classic as well, so check that link above if you haven’t already.  The delightful Famicom Mini is officially called the “Family Computer Classic Edition” and it appears to be quite similar to the Western version save for the obvious aesthetic difference, but also with some details and games.  Like the NES Classic Edition it will contain 30 games, it does not accept cartridges, and it will retail for ¥5980 (which at time of writing is literally $59.80).  Those of you already hoping to import should expect international shipping to be approximately $20-$30 depending on the speed of shipment and retailer.  I’ve already checked and no one currently has it on pre-order, although some bigger import sites do have pages for it, but I suspect it will not have a supply problem as the price point for these consoles suggests it needs to sell a large quantity.

Now there are some notable differences that you should be aware of.  Of course the games will all be the Japanese counterpart and contain the Japanese versions, but the universal HDMI out means that any HDTV worldwide should easily support either console.  On the other hand the USB power supply is not included in the Family Computer Classic Edition and can be purchased for ¥1000 ($10) if needed.  Those picking up both versions can most likely use the included NES Classic Edition cable and it’s probably the common micro-USB plug type.  Also the Famicom Mini, like the original Famicom, has two controllers wired directly into the console and are not removable.  As for games, 8 titles are unique to each region, so 22 of these titles are on both consoles.  Here’s a quick list of those and you can expect a video of these region specific titles coming soon.

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Break Final Fantasy IV (II in US) on SNES With Newest Patch

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One of the most fun things to do in the 16-bit era of JRPGs – although not exclusive to this time period – is break the basic system and do all kinds of ridiculous overpowered feats.  Of those, Final Fantasy IV (Final Fantasy II in the US on SNES) had a featured known as the “break damage limit” that forced the game to allow you to dole no more than 9999 points of damage (sounds like a lot of you aren’t a consistent re-player of the game) regardless of combos, leveling, and parties.  ROM hacker “chillyfeez” found a hexidecimal code in Final Fantasy II (specifically the North American ROM) that allowed the cap to be raised to 16383 damage.  While this is probably no big deal to many of us, Final Fantasy hardcore fans are probably overjoyed with the ability to increase damage and possibly even result in faster speedruns of the game.  Either way, if you want the ROM hack, which will work on any emulated or flash cart copy of the original untouched ROM, you can download it here.  Thank you Retro Collect for the story.

Written by Fred Rojas

March 13, 2015 at 11:40 am

Podcast: Final Fantasy in 3D

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This week we are joined by listener Fortengard and Andy from 42 Level One to discuss the original Playstation Final Fantasy games (FF VII – FF IX).  Controversy erupts over the endless love and condemnation for VII, the brutal Junction System of VIII, and the all-too-familiar nature of IX.  All beloved, the final opinion is that they should all be experienced.


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Written by Fred Rojas

April 30, 2014 at 11:21 am

Posted in Playstation, podcast

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Podcast: Square’s Swan Song

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If you are going to talk significant JRPGs in America, one of the most influential series is Final Fantasy.  Whether you believe that it was the last game Square may have ever made or that it was simply the last game designer Sakaguchi would be a part of, the massive success of this digital Dungeons & Dragons title started a strong fan base that continues today.  In part one of our coverage, Fred and Eli “Sodoom” team up to discuss Final Fantasy I-VI including development, design, gameplay, and of course Cid.


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Written by Fred Rojas

October 9, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Review: Final Fantasy IV

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ff4_us_boxConsole: SNES (as Final Fantasy II in the United States – title changed in later releases)
Released: November 1991
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Difficulty: Hard
Price: $24.67 (used, cart only), $70.57 (used, complete), $300.00 (new)
Additional Releases:Wonderswan Color (Japan only, updated graphics), Playstation (Final Fantasy Chronicles, new translation), Gameboy Advance (Final Fantasy IV Advanced, upgraded visuals, new translation/conversion to more closely resemble Japanese version), DS (full 3D remodeling, new dungeon), PSP (Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection, updated 2D visuals instead of 3D, includes The After Years and a new campaign Interlude to bridge gap between the events of IV and The After Years)
Digital Release? Wii Virtual Console (SNES version, $8), PSOne PSN (Playstation version, $10), PSN (PSP version, $30), iOS/Android (GBA version, $16)
Similar Titles: Dragon Quest (Warrior) franchise, Phantasy Star franchise, Vay, Ys I & II

Please note: This was originally released as Final Fantasy II in the United States and later re-named to the appropriate numbering system.  The actual Final Fantasy II Japan-only Famicom (NES)release review will be live shortly.

ff4_1Despite the numbering of this game (and Final Fantasy VI) to be completely messed up in the US, Final Fantasy IV is a must play for fans of the series and JRPG genre.  As George Lucas would put it, this is the “definitive version” of the game director (and series creator) Hironobu Sakaguchi originally wanted to make.  It learns from its three predecessors and weaves in a powerful story almost unheard of at this point in gaming.  Originally intended to be a final NES title in the series, budgetary and scheduling issues forced the 80 percent complete title to be scrapped and re-made on the new Super Nintendo (SNES) console with some of the original ideas integrated.  The elemental concepts of the original, heavy story elements of the sequel, and job system of the third (it would be better utilized in Final Fantasy V however) were all mashed together with a new active time battle (ATB) system to create the most compelling game yet.  ATB ditched traditional turn-based combat for a timer that allowed characters to attack at their own pace based on the type of warrior they were.  This continues to be a staple of the series today and even snuck into other RPGs like Chrono TriggerFinal Fantasy IV hit early in the SNES and celebrated mass critical and financial success worldwide and is considered a favorite by many series fans.

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Written by Fred Rojas

September 17, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Review: Final Fantasy

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ff1_nes_boxartConsole: NES
Released: 1990
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Difficulty: Moderate
Price: $13.49 (used, cart only), $48.50 (used, complete), $288.00 (new)
Additional Releases: MSX2 (Japan only), Wonderswan Color (Japan only), Playstation (Final Fantasy Origins, updated graphics), Gameboy Advance (Dawn of Souls, upgraded with additional dungeons, new translation), PSP (original title, includes Dawn of Souls content with updated visuals and soundtrack)
Digital Release? Wii Virtual Console (NES version, $5), PSOne PSN (Playstation version, $10), PSN (PSP version, $10), iOS/Android/Windows Phone (PSP version, $7)
Similar Titles: Dragon Quest (Warrior) franchise, Phantasy Star franchise, Vay, Ys I & II

ff1_nes_1If you ask most Americans what the first true console RPG was probably one of the most common responses would be Final Fantasy.  Not only is Square’s epic tale of four warriors taking on a timeless being that plans to destroy the world memorable, but it stood well above the competition of the time.  The Legend of Zelda may have taken around 10 hours to complete, a size and scope only possible with the ability to save that was unheard of prior, but it was nothing compared to the massive world and 30-50 hours you may spend conquering Final Fantasy.  Aside from that, the 1986 Famicom title Dragon Quest (changed to Dragon Warrior in the US for its earlier iterations) had just received a slight upgrade and released to North America in 1989, less than a year before Final Fantasy.  It was great but couldn’t compete with a game that was made three years later with the lack of classes, a party system, and various other differences.  It should be noted that in Japan Dragon Quest II had already released and Dragon Quest III came out in February 1988, a mere two months after Final Fantasy, which had slowly built up most of the game’s staples such as a party system, exploration, turn based battle system, and both games had similar class systems.  That doesn’t mean that Final Fantasy doesn’t have its own identity, it’s far superior in terms of graphics, nothing like the airship showed in the first three Dragon Quest games, and instead of sending you back to town when you die like Dragon Quest you would instead get a game over and go back to where you last saved.  Final Fantasy also shipped with a map and huge manual that got players more invested in exploring and completing the campaign, not to mention a cheap and huge Nintendo Power strategy guide that released shortly after.  For me, it was the near perfect conversion of the Dungeons & Dragons universe – some of the characters are literally stripped from the Monstrous Manual  – and converted it into a single player experience.

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Written by Fred Rojas

September 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Podcast: Found in Translation

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This week Fred flies solo to discuss the world of fan translations.  Many titles come out in foreign lands and never make the trip over the United States, often only available in the native language of Japanese: enter the fan translation.  We discuss the roots and makeup of a fan translation and then close with a long list of the most popular ones for each console.


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Written by Fred Rojas

May 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Podcast: Game Club – Chrono Trigger

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chronotrigger_box

This week we celebrate our game club by discussing the entire plot of Chrono Trigger.  We cover the game start to finish, touch on side missions, and discuss the universal ending.  We also remind you of January’s game club and pose a question for the game club in February.  This show is for those that have previously played Chrono Trigger or would like to hear the plotline in lieu of playing the game.

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Genre Study: Japanese RPGs (JRPGs)

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Nowadays when people refer to a “JRPG” it’s either associated with a flood of nostalgic love for a handful of long-running series or a groan as modern Japanese companies try to capture the form of evolution that many game players strive for.  This is because modern day JRPGs aren’t a whole lot different from the ones that started life and popularity back in the 16-bit era in Japan and the 32-bit era in America.  If you’re not too familiar with or have never played any of these games, modern or classic, you may wonder why games that follow a well-known and successful formula may fail.  Sure, gamers’ tastes have changed to a certain extent, but there’s still plenty of us that love to play these classic titles and have no problem sinking tens of hundreds of hours into beating them all over again.  Unfortunately for modern titles of this ilk, they suffer from a lack of resources and that personal touch that made the older games so charming.  Even when they do, like the recent Wii release The Last Story, these titles still can’t hold a candle to the heavy hitters of history.  As a result fans of the genre have pretty much independently decided to freeze this genre, and its subsequent games, in time and appreciate that era as exactly that: a specific time of genre-specific gaming bliss.  This makes it difficult for modern gamers trying to break into the genre because the amount of time to complete most games is much lower these days, lack of explanation and exploration are things of the past, and the price tags on the “classics” are either sky high or dirt cheap for the “poor ports.”  For that reason, we’ve compiled a basic overview of the genre as a whole, it’s roots, and the factors that make a title considered JRPG.  At the end we also suggest a handful of very accessible titles that are good for those starting out, especially with many of the classics porting to handhelds with varying results, and will continue coverage throughout this site.

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