Since last year, the Duck has returned to the piano with a renewed determination. In that time, I have taught myself six songs, all of which I recorded and uploaded to our Virtual Bastion Youtube channel. Those videos have also been posted on my blog and listed below, for added convenience and exposure. Continue reading Listmas 2018: Piano Songs (Past and Future)
Today’s 30 day video game topic (oh, my gosh, this is taking me far longer than 30 days) is #9, the saddest game scene, which is really right up my alley (if I had an alley, but I don’t, as I live in a neighborhood, not a city). I love sad things in games. Some of my best gaming moments involve me weeping for all I’m worth (which is about 7, maybe 8, bucks) because I like emotional stuff. Crying makes me happy. It really does. And so I had fun thinking about what my topic would be for this post, though I must admit, I am going to cheat a little. (By looking up the answers? No. Not that kind of cheating.) Because I have two scenes, actually, but only one that I count as my official topic for this post.
But first, my unofficial topic, a scene from the awesome SNES game, “Illusion of Gaia”. For a reason even I can’t comprehend, Will’s dream makes me cry every single time. Without fail. This scene involves Will dreaming about being back home, and he goes downstairs and talks to his deceased mother. The music is really sad and depressing, and she asks him if he thinks the approaching comet is a good thing or a bad thing. And that’s it. And it is really amazing how effective this is at making me sob like a duckling. Continue reading Day 9: Saddest Game Scene
Today’s 30 day video game post is number seven, my favorite video game couple (which is perfect for Valentine’s Day, no?). Now I am not normally the type that is into love stories, as I have mentioned in previous posts, but video games are an exception, probably for two reasons. One, because I love them. And two, because never have I found a video game that focused mainly on the love story more than anything else. There aren’t any romance video games, as far as I can tell, though there are certainly books and movies of the romance genre, which is far too upsetting to me, as I can only stand it in small doses and only when it isn’t too…icky.
And so, despite this normally being a topic that repels me, I was able to think it over with no gagging whatsoever. Yay. And several couples came to mind, Cloud and Aerith from “FFVII”, Yuna and Tidus from “FFX” (and even Vincent and Lucrecia from “FFVII”, which is not a favorite, but it came to mind when I realized all three of these couples ended tragically). I even thought of Kafei and Anju from “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask”, a couple that will always have a special place in my heart simply because I had to do so much darn work in that game to make it work out in the end. But, no, those are not my favorite couples. Why did I even bother listing them in the first place? I don’t know. What’s it to you? Ahem, my favorite game couple…contains spoilers for “Super Paper Mario”, so read at your own risk.
Yes, my favorite couple is not one of those more well-known pairings from famous “Final Fantasy” games (alliteration), but from a “Mario” game. A “Paper Mario” game, but still. This couple is one which remains secret until later in the game. Oh, we know this couple exists, as we get little snippets of dialogue whenever we complete a chapter, but the people involved in this particular love story are not known to us at first. One of them is injured, while the other nurses them back to health. One of them is from the Tribe of Darkness and is shocked to find this fact does not bother the other. And they meet with opposition from a father that doesn’t approve of the union. It’s really quite typical, really, but it kept my attention because of the mystery surrounding it. Who were these people? Who was this Blumiere and Timpani? And how does it relate to the game?
Eventually we find that Blumiere now goes by the name of Count Bleck, this game’s main antagonist, who was not always evil like we see now. We know his heart aches for this Timpani, whoever she is, and despite the fact that this fiend is trying to destroy all dimensions with the Void, you can’t help but feel a bit of pity for him. This Timpani was lost to him when his father banished her to wander the space between dimensions due to him not wanting his son to marry someone of another race from theirs, and though Blumiere looked for her, he never found her, and his anguish caused him to create the Void in an attempt to destroy all worlds, worlds that are too terrible to be allowed to exist, if something like that could happen. A bit rash, I must admit, but his story is still a tragic one, nonetheless.
Well, we do end up finding out the fate of his beloved, and she turns out to have been with you all along, though unrecognizable from her previous form. Mario’s sidekick, Tippi, turns out to be the lost Timpani. Once an ordinary woman, she was found by Merlon, near death after her wandering between dimensions, and the only way he could save her was to turn her into a Pixl, though this also caused her to lose her memory of her past. Her memory does finally return to her towards the end of the game, however, and she and Count Bleck are reunited, at which time he has a change of heart. This is not enough to stop the Void, however, as someone else still wishes to see all worlds destroyed, and after a nice, epic final boss battle (necessary to a proper love story, wouldn’t you say?), Tippi and the Count find there is only one way to fully stop the Void, which was created by the Chaos Heart when Count Bleck forced Bowser and Peach to marry at the beginning of the game. This solution (a rather corny one, but hey, we’ve been collecting Pure Hearts the whole game through, so I guess it’s unavoidable at this point), in so many words, is true love, basically. The former Timpani and Blumiere marry, at which point the Void is destroyed (I rhymed), but the couple cease to exist.
And so Count Bleck has redeemed himself, as Tippi and he sacrificed themselves to stop the Void (he really shouldn’t have created it in the first place, though). Things are both sad and triumphant, as the two seem to have been wiped from existence, but at the same time, all worlds are safe from the Void again. However, we find things to not be so sad, after all, as we then get a short scene with the silhouettes of the Count and a certain woman in the distance, on a grassy hill in a beautiful place, where they stay for a short time before they walk over the hill and are lost to sight. So it seems that, things did finally work out for Blumiere and Timpani in the end, after all.
So it may not be the best love story out there or the best couple, really. But, I still enjoyed playing this game and wondering who these two people were. It was the most interesting part of the game for me, as I wanted to know so badly who they were and what would happen to them next. And how shocked I was to find this couple was the main villain and one of the main protagonists! So this couple turned out to be my favorite, both due to the mystery of this particular story and the two people involved in it, the sweet Tippi and the charming Count Bleck (if you can get over his attempts to kill everyone, that is). This is a love story I can handle.
Favorite Duck Couple, Couple of Ducks
“Final Fantasy X”, like other “Final Fantasy” games, has some really great music, some sad, some beautiful, some epic, and so I present you with my list of top 10 songs from the game.
10. “Hopeless Desire” is a simpler song, but I’ve always enjoyed it. It is fairly slow and calm. The main place I remember it playing is somewhere very early in the game and in Macalania Temple.
9. “Wandering Flame” is a beautiful song that plays in places like the Farplane. It is a sad song, and there isn’t tons to it, but I like the saxophone that pops up here and there. My favorite part is about 1:50 in.
8. “Path of Repentance” plays in the Via Purifico. It is a pretty song that is played on the piano. (I wish I could play it.)
7. “Hymn of the Fayth” (or “Song of Prayer”) is a short, simple song with words sung by the Fayth. This video has various versions of the song. My favorite is probably the one around 3:15, the first version with many voices singing together.
6. “Brave Advancement” is a somewhat epic song played at the battle arena. I very much enjoy this one.
5. “Decisive Battle” is a very epic, very dramatic song that plays during the final battle with Yu Yevon. I really like this song, and I really like that fast piano.
4. “Between Ordeals” is a very strange sounding song that plays in the various Cloisters of Trials, but I’ve always liked it.
3. “To Zanarkand” is a beautiful song played on the piano. It is slow and a bit sad. You first hear it during the cut scene that plays before the game starts. (I really wish I could play this on the piano, too. Actually, I probably could, but I keep forgetting how it goes.)
2. “Silence Before the Storm” plays in forests, like Macalania Forest (not to be confused with Macarena…silly Tidus…). It is a very lovely song and kind of gives the areas a magical feel to it.
1. “Suteki Da Ne” has several versions, but I chose the one with words, as it is by far the best version. This is seriously one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and the woman who sings it has a very beautiful voice. Definitely the best song of the game.
Suteki Duck Ne
I remember years ago, I had never played a real “Final Fantasy” game. Yeah, I had played “Crystal Chronicles”, but it is so different, I don’t know if it really counts. I wanted to try the series out because it sounded good, but I just didn’t have the right consoles for it. Finally, I got a PlayStation 2, my first non-Nintendo console, and I decided it was a good time to finally play a real “Final Fantasy” game and see what all the hype was about. The only games for the PS2 at that time were “Final Fantasy X” and “X-2”, both of which I bought. I started out with “FFX”, of course, and it was, to say the least, quite impressive.
My first experience with a real “Final Fantasy” game was unlike anything I had ever played before. The game had the most amazing story, complex characters, and some great character and location designs (or in the case of some people, *cough* Dona and Yunalesca *cough*, very unflatteringly revealing clothing designs). Aside from the few people that felt clothing was more of a suggestion than a rule of society, I really enjoyed the game a lot. It was really amazing. Even the music was very beautiful, the graphics were quite good, and the voice acting was well-done. The latter two were particularly impressive because the GameCube (my only other current console at the time) didn’t have great graphics, and most of the games on it had bad voice acting. Seriously, what was wrong with the voice acting in some GameCube games? The PS2 games can handle it, why not you, Cube?
Anyway, I really liked playing my first “FF” game, even if the story was sometimes hard to grasp, and I still really sucked at RPG’s back then. (Skipping half the battles and, thus forgoing much needed experience was a really terrible idea. I know that now.) The game was great, and I learned that “FF” games are some of the most creative and complex games out there, and I found it really easy to get quite involved in them. Having such good memories of my first “FF” game, I recently decided to play “FFX” again. I actually hadn’t played the game for a whopping eight years, and the rest of this post is dedicated to my most recent thoughts of the game.
For one thing, I found that, even though I liked the game the first time I played, I like it even more this time. I don’t know why, but I love this game more than ever. And it probably helped that I really paid attention to the story this time and have managed to understand most of it (though, some details of Seymour and the ending still elude me). I also love the characters more than ever. I’ve always loved sweet Yuna. I always thought Auron was pretty cool, too. (Cool enough to warrant me buying a foot tall figurine of him? Perhaps. Okay, maybe it is a bit overkill. Or maybe you’re just jealous. You’re jealous. I know it.) But, now, I love everyone.
This game really has a great group of characters. It sounds corny, but I like that all the playable characters care about each other. You know, in “FFXIII”, I don’t think half the characters cared about the other half, so I had trouble caring, too. But, in this game, the characters actually choose to be together, and I like that they are actually concerned about each other. I like the energetic Rikku more now. I think I stopped loving her because of my more recent experience with her in “FFX-2”…. I found that Lulu isn’t so bad once you get to know her better. Wakka’s a nice guy. Ignorant and can’t think for himself, but nice. Kimahri may be quiet, but he is loyal to Yuna. I can respect that. And I used to think Tidus was annoying, but I see even more how good of a guy he is and how he doesn’t give up easily on what he believes in.
Speaking of Tidus, I better tell you a bit about the story. The game starts out with Tidus, a blitzball player who lives in the city of Zanarkand. One day, a huge creature called Sin comes and Tidus wakes up 1,000 years in the future. He finds the Zanarkand he knew is long gone, and Sin is a creature that’s long been terrorizing Spira as punishment for what the people did wrong. Poor Tidus is a bit lost in the world, until he meets the summoner Yuna and her guardians. Yuna’s going on a Pilgrimage to pray at every temple in Spira so she can summon the Final Aeon (Aeons are powerful creatures) and hopefully temporarily defeat Sin. Unfortunately, Sin never stays gone for long, and so far no one’s been able to defeat it permanently. The game follows their journey through Spira, and then their adventure turns into so much more.
Gameplay-wise, the game is a lot of fun, too. It is a very good length and took me over 50 hours to beat, but it never got boring. A lot happens in the game, and all those hours went by rather quickly. The game is actually pretty linear for quite some time, which may bother some, but it didn’t bother this duck. After quite some time, though, you can then travel all around Spira using an airship, allowing you to revisit all the places you’ve been before, including at least two extra areas you find by searching the world map. One area, the Omega Ruins, was actually new to me this time through. I found it by randomly moving all over the map and repeatedly pressing X. Want to know where it is? I’ll give you a hint. Upper right, but not too upper right.
I also think this game has a great battle system. I love that you have all the time in the world to make decisions. Unlike some other games, enemies aren’t beating you up while you’re trying to compare the merits of using Demi or Bio. Everyone’s turns are lined up on the right side of the screen so you know who goes when, and your turn doesn’t end until you make a decision. It is much less stressful. I also love how flexible it is. You only fight with three characters at a time, but your entire team is available to you. You can actually switch characters at any time, which almost never happens in RPG’s. It was great. And I no longer find myself in frustrating situations, like against flying enemies when all my characters have swords. Oh, there’s one of those flying eyes again? No problem, I’ll just switch out Tidus for Wakka and pow, you’re dead, winged peeper! You can also switch weapons and armor during battle, which is also pretty neat.
Anyway, I want to finish this post with five things I learned since my last playthrough.
1. Healing works great on zombies. I think it said so in the little bar at the top that tells you about enemies, but I didn’t actually make use of that information until this time. Last time, this zombie wyrm boss caused me so much trouble. This time I used two phoenix downs on it, and it was dead. Well, more dead.
2. Don’t skip battles! For the love of all things decent, don’t! Last time, I was impatient and skipped enemies, which caused me to often be too weak to defeat bosses. And then I spent hours fighting enemies trying to get strong enough to win the next boss battle. This time, I didn’t have to do that much because I fought every enemy that came my way. Except for the really scary ones. (Stupid Great Malboro, stop confusing my characters and making them murder each other! And who else is freaked out by the Demonolith? Years later, I had a nightmare inspired by those things. I know it was because of them. These horrible creatures trapped in glass cases with nothing free but these big arms of evil they tried to swipe me with…)
3. Overdrives are your bestest friend. These are extra strong attacks your characters can use when this bar fills up. All the Aeons Yuna can summon have them, too. So what I would do when a boss battle was coming was I would get every character and Aeon to have an Overdrive ready, then, I would just pummel that boss. Won me some battles very quickly. Scared of Ultima Weapon? Fo’get about it! Just use Bahamut’s Overdrive + Yuna’s Overdrive to give Bahamut a second Overdrive, and you just did 60,000 damage to the bugger right there. Am I the duck or am I the duck? I am definitely. The duck.
4. Lancet stuff. You learn awesome things, like Mighty Guard, the much better sounding version of Big Guard. Except, I though learning Bad Breath from a Malboro was weird. Why would I want to have bad breath? Eww.
5. Valefor is not a fire creature. Some Aeons can use magic of their respective element on themselves to heal. I used this often with much success with Ifrit, Ixion, and Shiva. Valefor looks like a phoenix, so I thought she was a fire creature, so one day I had her use Fira on herself, and she died.
So anyway, I loved this game. I really enjoyed the characters and the story. And the battle system is just great. I spent a lot of time in this game, and I still haven’t done everything. (I actually missed an Aeon I got in my first time through. Where the heck were they, stupid bug ladies…?) Besides not being able to skip cut scenes, this is a nearly perfect game. There is just one other thing that bothers me, though. How is it that the characters can breathe and possibly speak underwater? I’ve done ten minute battles underwater before. It’s insane! Insane! They have the lung capacity of a whale!
High Summoner Duck
I was looking at the back of my “Final Fantasy X” case, just ‘cuz, and I read a most amusing thing. In the upper left is a short little thing undoubtedly left there to entice us to buy it. And to the right are words beneath four pictures. The top two read: “Characters with voices” and “Real-time facial expressions”. I stared at this, then, burst out laughing. Well, of course they have voices! They’re not all mute! Oh, big woop, facial expressions! Why not awe us with a caption like “Characters with limbs”?
But, then it all reminded me of how spoiled we are today. The mere fact that these characters could speak and have expressions must have been new at the time. I could hardly imagine a world where I never got to hear my favorite “Kingdom Hearts” characters’ voices or if bad guys could only yell threats during battle in less-than-intimidating speech bubbles. Fear my font! A terrible world indeed.
And that reminds me of other things us gamers are spoiled with today. Characters used to have what I call “karate hands”. They had all their fingers stuck together except for the thumb. And yeah, they had the same look on their faces the whole darn game. But, I guess I shouldn’t complain. Before that, our characters pretty much had no facial features whatsoever but eyes and maybe a ‘stache. Not to mention the fingerless nub hands.
And while I don’t really remember what my first game with voice-acting was, I do remember how bad it used to be. Just terrible. Methinks people didn’t take it very seriously at the time. Now voice-acting is amazing and characters’ mouths move perfectly with what they are saying. I saw this starting in the PS2. I’m used to it now and don’t usually give it a second thought anymore, but it has come a long way.
It was also first on the PS2 that I saw the most amazing graphics. First in “FFX”, actually. Certain scenes got the most beautiful graphics you’ve ever seen. So perfect and lovely that I can’t completely describe it. That’s one thing they should’ve included on the back of the case. Now, though, all of “FFXIII”, for example, pretty much has perfect graphics, with certain cut scenes getting even better graphics.
It’s amazing what they can do in games now. I remember being absolutely amazed by this puddle of dirty water early on in “Halo: Reach”. It was just a spectacular puddle of mud water. It looked so real! And I spent plenty of time admiring how the clothing on “Final Fantasy XIII” characters moves realistically, too. Sometimes when I play, I think of the people who worked so hard just to make a game. They design the characters, environments, creatures. They compose music, create a story. And yes, even give the characters voices. I wish more things had this much love put into them.
So, we are very spoiled. Especially young kids now. I would have to rant at them, “In my day, our characters had no voices, facial expressions, or even fingers! Heck, before that, they hardly even had faces! Rrr, razzle frazzle, control pad, grr!” Then, they’d probably laugh at me.
A Duck, Now in Glorious 3-D!
Sana requested a post in which I tell you guys about what I like in video games and what’s not my cup of tea. Sounds fun. Thanks for the idea! Here I go!
The things I like are pretty obvious. Of course, a game must be fun, but what makes some games stand out from others is when they have a good story and good characters. These are pretty important. That’s why I love games from the Kingdom Hearts and Jak and Daxter series so much. Good stories, awesome characters. And lots of fun. The cut scenes are often as much fun as the game. They get a very special place in my heart. Like a nice apartment. With a view. Because I can’t fit houses in my heart. I still, of course, like games that don’t have good plots, or plots at all, such as those from the Mario or Donkey Kong series because they are still fun and creative. They are just not quite as special to me. But, still special. They get a slightly less nice apartment in my heart.
Good graphics and music are always nice, but not super important. Good, or at least, not bad dialogue helps, too. Other things that make me happy are when you have a lot of places to explore, items to collect, new moves to learn, which is why I like Metroid games better than Halo, even though both are awesome. In Metroid, you get upgraded weapons and moves as you play and can collect things to upgrade your health and missile capacity. Plus, there are many places to explore. Unique ideas are fun, too. In “Okami”, for example, you drew things with a brush, which was neat.
I also like when you can save often enough, don’t have to redo a lot when you die, and can skip cut scenes. “Kingdom Hearts”, for example, made you rewatch cut scenes, and it was annoying. Square Enix must have realized how annoying it was because you get to skip them now. I also like when games are a challenge, but not ridiculous. I hate absurdly hard games.
Specifically, my favorite games are platformers, RPG’s, and other such things with action or exploring or whatever.
Now for the things I hate. These are the things that will cause me to sell or not even buy a game. One is dirtiness. Some games think that because they’re rated M, they need to have as many bad things as they’re allowed. When I was looking at new games for the XBox 360, the only games that looked good were rated M, so I checked the back, and they had things I didn’t want. So I’m not even going to try them. What’s nice about the Halo series is all they have is violence and a little bit of swearing. Being rated M, they could have more, but there is no dirty things and minimal swearing. In fact, “Halo: Reach” doesn’t even have swearing. I’m proud of you, Bungie. On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t like super corny games. I can only handle a small amount of corn.
I was also kept from getting a game because I heard it had a limited number of saves. That would be so annoying. I also hate it in games when you can’t save at all.
I also hate bad controls, like when the camera won’t obey you or you can’t control it at all, and you often die just because you can’t see where you’re going. I also hate that “Sonic and the Secret Rings” is only hard because the controls are so bad. They tried something new, where Sonic is always moving, and you tilt the Wii remote left or right to go left or right, forward to speed up, and back to slow down. I think you can make Sonic stop, but it’s hard. I feel like I have very little control over him. It’s very aggravating.
This next thing is tolerable or horrible, depending on what game it is. I don’t like when games have battles start randomly. Most games, you can see the enemies and choose if you want to fight. In games like “Final Fantasy X” and “Quest 64”, you never know when a battle may start because you can’t see any enemies. You’re just walking, and then suddenly you have to fight things and can’t easily get away. In the former game, though, it’s a good game so it doesn’t bother me as much, but the latter is already not a great game, and this is pretty much the worst part of it.
Also, like I said, I hate super hard games. I really hate them. It’s bad enough that the final bosses of “Vexx” and “Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep” are insane, but when a whole game is a chore… No way. I also hate having to do stupid things or you can’t move on, such as beating the super annoying “Donkey Kong Arcade” in “Donkey Kong 64” not once, but twice, in order to get a necessary item. I also hate when you must fight zillions of enemies or when they take super long to kill. All this fuels the duck’s feathery rage.
The types of games I dislike are sports, really simple games like pinball or Pacman, and fighting games that aren’t “Super Smash Brothers” and racing games other than “Jak X” or “F-Zero”.
And now, the things that simply disappoint me. For one thing, when things don’t feel complete. In the 2006 version of “Sonic the Hedgehog”, it was a good game, but they left some things unfinished. For example, things would fall in the water without a splash. Such a simple thing to fix. I felt like they sold the game before they were completely done with it.
I am also disappointed by bad graphics and bad music, but that’s not a big deal. I am saddened when games are too short, especially good ones.
I also don’t like bad dialogue and skimpy outfits. Too skimpy, and this nears the Bad. I also don’t like when you get to the end of the game and aren’t allowed to return to previous areas, like in “Okami” and “Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier”. I don’t mind when it’s a kind of game where there’s nothing to collect, but in these, there is, and I couldn’t go back for what I missed.
I also don’t like when they think they’re too cool. I’m talking to you, Sonic. And the characters in “Jak X”. I don’t think they were as obnoxious in the previous games….
Well, there you go.
An Opinionated Duck