Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Beware the Stroper! (It rhymes with Groper!)

So, two things are rather recent for me to write about: Samurai 7 and Final Fantasy IX (or 9 for you sorry folks who can't read roman numerals).

Firstly, Samurai 7 is an anime series based on Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai". Its a rather good anachronistic telling with real-type samurai juxtaposed to giant robots (In the role of the bandits). Basically.... Think of a "The-long-way" telling of the Seven Samurai where they're still protecting an Edo-era rice producing village but the town they travel to in order to find Samurai is Steam/Cyber-punk as is much of the technology outside of rural villages... And the bandits are giant robotic beings... So far as we know. I only have the first two discs right now, so I'm not sure how they'll end it exactly, but I'm betting on a plot twist involving the bandits as "The enemy is not what they seem!" tends to be a common anime plot twist when dealing with large foes that don't directly interact with the heroes (And sometimes even when they do!). Anyway, its good, Netflix a disc or something!

Secondly, I've been playing through Final Fantasy 9 and am already on the 3rd disc. Now I will tell you up front, right here, that anyone who says they love FF9 but hate 10 with a main reason being "You don't get to even use a world map till late in the game, its so linear" (Which I've never heard, but I'm sure some fool has made it) has NO point to make. I just got to disc 3, about 25 hours in, and feel like I'm not being led around for the first time all game, like I actually have a realistic choice of where to go and what to do. Sure there were some minor instances here and there earlier on, but the first continent you're on is constructed in such a way as you can't go very many places EXCEPT your next destination... Which I don't really have a problem with, but I know that something a fair number of people try to pin on 10 is its lack of world map exploration, and I say "Good Riddance". World maps have a nice nostalgia to them, but they are ultimately impractical now that we have the technology to render actual levels all the way inbetween towns and such. Speaking of impractical things: Tetra Master. I don't know if I mentioned the card game in Final Fantasy 8, but for some reason I remembered this one's being better... Well it isn't, its an inconsistant random mess that is kept intentionally vague because I don't think the creators fully developed it properly! The problem comes when two cards have to "Battle". You can have two cards with the exact same values attack each other, and some unknown background factor affects the numbers that actually come into play. AGH!! Thankfully I read something that said "Yeah, the card game will never really win you anything." Thank goodness, because I'd much rather waste hours on a worthwhile mini-game like "Chocobo Hot/Cold" in which you hunt for treasure with the aid of everybodies favorite yellow bird:

Isn't it adorable? You know what isn't adorable? The Stroper, an enemy in the Lifa tree. I would describe its appearence in detail, but women visit this site... I hope. I will say that it is a blatant tentacle monster, which you will either understand or not. I've noticed that a LOT of the enemies in this Final Fantasy are kinda... Odd. For instance the enemy that seems to based on an ancient Japanese horror monster, and the Snake woman who is ironically ugly to contrast the fact that in the old SNES final Fantasies she was quite hot. *Sigh* I guess that Square was just making a giant series of references to its older games with this one since, based on an FAQ I read, there are more references to previous games in this Final Fantasy than any other, which I can believe. But anyway, I was talking about mini-games. The Choco Hot/Cold is so much better a game because 1. Its fun. 2. There is serious rewardage when you find the treasures. However I'm not sure I'm going to indulge too much because I kind of want to get through the game and move on in my rampant replaying of Final Fantasies past which I've kind of decided to just go ahead and do: Play all the Final Fantasies that I haven't played through more than once. I've played 4 enough that I'm not going to play it again, but I need to play 6 again, and I'll try to bring myself to play 5 though of the ones I have played its currently my least favorite. Also 10 which, I may have played through twice, or maybe I just did it once and then watched someone else do it a second time. Heck, its skill system beats 9 at least, which I really am not a fan of because you have to let equipment sit on your characters until they get enough Ability Points to permenantly learn it, so you have super weak armor sitting on your high level character that wasn't able to learn the skill early on because the game forced you along a certain plot line where only the main character was playable for a while...... They just better be glad I really like the art style and music and am liking the story because nary but the core Final Fantasy gameplay goodness aspects am I liking of the combat... Worst limit system ever and the turn meter fills...so....freakin'....slowly.... Oh well, its still fun, and some people will try to convince thats all that really matters.... When its cheap or free they are correct, so with a game that you bought 8 years ago I guess it applies too.

In other good news, tomorrow I'm going to buy the Blade Runner 4 disc set, the Criterion Collection version of "The Seven Samurai", and Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica. Why such a big purchase? Because for the entire month of June all DVDs are Buy 2 get the 3rd free. As my manager said "I spend $500 easy." I won't spend quite that much, but I do plan to take advantage of the deal at least once more this month. I'll see how much more I can spend after Ninja Gaiden 2.

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