Final Fantasy Bonanza for Xbox Fans!

When rumors floated online in 2005 that Square Enix was being attracted by Microsoft to release games on what was back then their upcoming game console the Xbox 360, there were some gamers who just dismissed those rumors claiming that the Japanese company would NEVER release its role-playing games (RPGs) – specifically Final Fantasy games – on a console of an American company.

It was a different time back then for console gaming. Square Enix released Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XII plus some Dragon Quest and Front Mission games on Sony’s highly successful PlayStation 2 (PS2) console. The company even developed a Final Fantasy spin-off for the GameCube with Nintendo as publisher.

For the original Xbox console, Square Enix made no games for it at all.

Things turned during the time of the Xbox 360. Square Enix published several games for it and to the delight of Xbox fans who love Final Fantasy, the company released Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Final Fantasy XI and other games.

This year Square Enix released several of their classic Final Fantasy games released for Xbox One gamers via Xbox LIVE – Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X and X-2 and a few others.

The other announced game, Final Fantasy XII (The Zodiac Age), will be released on April 30.

Among these games, I’m currently playing Final Fantasy IX on my Xbox One and even though it has been almost twenty years since I last played it, I can say that I am enjoying it again. The game is technically a port of the PC version (which comes with cleaned-up graphics most evident on the character and creature models) and not a remastered version. More importantly, the gameplay is still fun (even though it has those random battles) and the story has a lot of heart.

With the classic Final Fantasy games available via Xbox LIVE, now is the time for Xbox fans (who love Final Fantasy or those who are very interested in Japanese role-playing games) to acquire them while they can. We should be very thankful to Square Enix (and surely to Microsoft’s Xbox team led by Phil Spencer) for those games.

Final Fantasy X and X-2 were remastered for Xbox One while the upcoming Final Fantasy XII has already been confirmed to run at a super smooth 60-frames-per-second on the premium Xbox One X console.

What is missing from the FF classics is Final Fantasy VIII which continues to puzzle gamers to this day.

If more Xbox gamers buy these classic FF games, then perhaps Square Enix will be convinced to release more of their past hits of their other franchises like Front Mission and Dragon Quest. Perhaps they will consider releasing the older, 2D FF games like Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI.

Apart from enjoying the varied stories, characters and gameplay styles, gamers will also enjoy the music of Nobuo Uematsu.

For your enjoyment, I embedded below Xbox channel videos of Final Fantasy.

 

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Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker Revealed!

Let me say one thing clearly – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is a train wreck and it made me very disappointed (I saw it twice in different cinemas), even doubtful about the future of the Star Wars movie franchise in the current post-George Lucas era.   Really, I disliked the work of director Rian Johnson.

Hours ago, the official teaser trailer of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker was revealed and already it is generating tremendous buzz online not only among fans but also among moviegoers in general. The reception is overall positive and already moviegoers have something to watch out for this December. Also it is nice that director J.J. Abrams, who directed Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, is back and this time he wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice).

For your enjoyment, posted below is the official teaser trailer. Watch it now!

What can I say? The teaser trailer was nicely done which is no surprise at all. Even the Rian Johnson train wreck The Last Jedi had pretty and engaging trailers. Going back to The Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer, what made me smile was the return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian and he was co-piloting the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca! It has been almost thirty-six years since Williams last appeared as Lando on the big screen!

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Welcome back, Lando Calrissian! Welcome to the 21st century, the age of social media!

What really intrigued was the end of the teaser trailer with the unexpected appearance of a large piece of a major structure from long ago. Equally intriguing was that recognizable evil laugh as the screen went dark. Now it is up to J.J. Abrams and his creative team to explain on the big screen those two elements.

Another intriguing thing is the subtitle involving the surname Skywalker. Who (or what) exactly is the Skywalker on the rise? We all know what happened to Luke Skywalker in the dreaded The Last Jedi and given Mark Hamill’s voice-over in the teaser trailer, it is only logical to expect that his character will return in ghost form Like Obi-Wan and Yoda. Personally I don’t think Luke will be the one on the rise.

General Leia (played by the late Carrie Fisher) is Luke’s sister but as the movies of the past showed, she never identified herself as a Skywalker. The Last Jedi did show her using the Force (is Rian Johnson a Mary Poppins fan?) and MAYBE she might present herself as the new Skywalker being the only living offspring of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker and use the Force more.

But then maybe the Skywalker-on-the-rise may not necessarily be a person related through family bloodline.

I was thinking that it is possible that the name Skywalker will go beyond family and be used to establish a brand new Jedi movement. A movement in which Force users, starting with Rey (Daisy Ridley), will have their own definition of the Jedi teachings as well as a new vision about using the Force. Considering the very limited learning of the Force and the Jedi she had with Luke plus the fact that she took ancient Jedi books with her in The Last Jedi, it is possible for Rey to establish her own philosophies of the Jedi. This would put her in similar ground with Luke Skywalker (after the events of Return of the Jedi).

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The Rise of Skywalker will open in cinemas worldwide this December. Hopefully it will turn out to be a great film and help Star Wars fans forget about the train wreck called The Last Jedi.

From this point on, we can only wait until the movie opens in cinemas globally this December. At the very least, I can say that I’m feeling hopeful that The Rise of Skywalker will be fun and, more importantly, set the direction of Star Wars properly and recover from the disaster of The Last Jedi.

There is still a new hope for Star Wars fans!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

 

Why I am excited for Wonder Woman 1984

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What is my favorite superhero movie of all time? It is none other than 2017’s Wonder Woman movie that starred Gal Gadot and was directed by Patty Jenkins. That film is truly a spectacular spectacular!

Naturally I am heavily anticipating the next movie Wonder Woman 1984 which is set for a June 2020 worldwide release in cinemas. It was originally set for a November 2019 release but Warner Bros. had to push it back.

Why am I excited for the movie?

1) Gal Gadot as the Queen of Superheroes – Israeli actress Gal Gadot is a lot more than a talented actress. She has proven in the 2017 that she IS Wonder Woman as she captured the core values of the icon and convincingly dramatized those values and character elements on the big screen. With Wonder Woman 1984 coming, I am excited to see how Gadot will flesh out Diana/WW as she spends time in Man’s World in the year 1984. When it comes to spectacle, Gadot is a proven action performer and knows how to please viewers with WW in action. Of course, the stunt and fight coordinators as well as the physical trainer all contributed to the spectacle in the first movie and for sure they are working hard to fill WW84 with new spectacle.

2) Patty Jenkins’ direction – To make things clear, Patty Jenkins is a storyteller first and foremost. Her work in the 2017 WW movie was very good and there was a nice balance between spectacle, character development and plot development. The strong focus on the development of Diana from the world of Themyscira to Man’s World really reminded me of what I read in the comic books long ago (particularly George Perez’s WW in the post-Crisis DC Comics universe that started in 1986). Not only that, the sequence from the early part of the moving with the narrative drifting from the present day into Diana’s past as a child in Themyscira was easily the most immersive narrative transition I’ve ever seen in any superhero movie! Don’t forget the now iconic No Man’s Land scene which heavily emphasized Wonder Woman’s presence in Man’s World. Before I forget, the implementation of humor in the film was clever as supporting cast members performed it leaving Gal Gadot free to play Wonder Woman straight.

Considering what was achieved in the 2017 movie, I am confident that Jenkins has new concepts to realize on the big screen in WW84. We just have to wait until June 2020 to find out.

3. Kristen Wiig as Cheetah – This one is more intriguing. Kristen Wiig is often identified with comedy and this alone made her look like an unlikely candidate to play one of the classic Wonder Woman villains…Cheetah. In the comics, specifically during the George Perez era, Cheetah was tough and rough against WW. I believe that with the strong support from the film crew and director Jenkins, Kristen Wiig can prove herself to not only be serious but also gritty as Cheetah. So far there are no images showing Cheetah in her anticipated beastly look which is fine with me because I prefer that Warner Bros. should keep such images secret until the film’s opening.

4. The 1980s setting – While it is a fact that nostalgia for the 1980s has waned in reality, having Wonder Woman in the said decade could create something new and memorable for all moviegoers. As far as we know, Wonder Woman is into a conflict with the Soviet Union during the Cold War and Cheetah lurks somewhere. Will the sequel adapt key story elements from George Perez’s 1980s Wonder Woman? Will there be references to the Iran-Contra connection of the decade that saw the murder of many men, women and children? The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan perhaps? We won’t find out until June 2020. The 1980s setting, by the way, could be an opportunity to add zest to the ongoing superhero movie craze that Hollywood as a whole has been benefiting from and, story-wise.

5) Gradual build-up for the DC Comics cinematic universe – I have no doubt that Wonder Woman 1984 will gradually help build-up the DC Comics cinematic universe in terms of storytelling and world-building under the watch of Walter Hamada. The recent mega-blockbuster Aquaman was a finely crafted movie that portrayed the origin of Aquaman while at the same time tell an epic story in the present day set after the events of Justice League no less! In my view, there is a clean slate for universe-building as far as DC Comics superheroes in cinema is concerned. While the future of the cinematic Batman and Superman remains unclear, Wonder Woman and Aquaman are here to stay and then there is also the upcoming films of Birds of Prey and the Suicide Squad sequel that will add to the cinematic universe build-up. Personally I prefer the cinematic universe build-up to be gradual and not rushed and heavy loaded (as seen during the watch of Zack Snyder). Building up the current cinematic universe piece-by-piece by releasing standalone movies of DC’s superheroes (and teams of intriguing characters) from time to time is preferable. Under the watch of Walter Hamada, I am confident he is executing plans on not only improving the DC Comics cinematic universe but also defining it. Going back to Wonder Woman 1984, I really look forward as to what its plot will add to the cinematic universe as a whole.

June 2020 is still far away but it will come and already I am looking forward to watching Wonder Woman 1984 on opening day on an IMAX screen.

For your enjoyment, here are some YouTube videos I embedded. I included a short clip of Kristen Wiig’s act.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco.

 

Observation of the first twelve hours Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

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Very recently I got to play the first twelve hours of Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition on my Xbox One console. As the subtitle showed, this is an enhanced re-release of the game which first came out on Xbox 360 in the year 2008.

This early I can confirm that Bandai Namco delivered its promise on Tales of Veperia: DE as the game’s visuals have been upscaled which means that the anime cut scenes and the in-game cut scenes (cel-shaded polygons and colorful 3D surroundings) look really crisp. More importantly this new version has two additional playable characters with Patty (the little pirate) and Flynn (rival of Yuri).

With Patty and Flynn added, so were the cut scenes and this also meant additional voice-overs, more in-game art and more sound effects altogether. Oh yes, their respective abilities and gameplay features added even more variety to the game’s big mix of features.

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Patty the pirate!

When it comes to the gameplay experience, I should say that this one has proven to be a lot of fun so far. For the first twelve hours the story moved at a moderate to quick pace while still allowing me to get to know Yuri and the main characters, the situations of the fantasy world and how the game plays.

When it comes to battles, they are pretty much low in stress. Unlike most JRPGs, there are no random battles to annoy me as I am given the freedom to decide if I want to fight a group of enemies (portrayed as individuals on the world map) or not. When I need to level up my characters, I engaged in many battles and the good news is that grinding (engaging in back-to-back battles to gain experience points to level up) in this game is not very stressful. Certainly not annoying.

This is because the battles are performed in real-time. Physical combat is done by button mashing which is quick and easy. Using magic uses the menu (which means pausing the game) to select a spell and which character to use. Switching between characters (up to four) is also quick and easy.

I already had my team engage in lots of battles to level-up, help them gain new skills or special abilities and of course raise money (called Gald). The good thing is that I never felt stressed out.

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Battles in the game are fast and relatively convenient to manage. (image from Bandai Namco)

When it comes to storytelling, the game has a wholesome tone comparable with past Tales Of games.

While I still have a long way to go in the game, I can confirm to you gamers and JRPG fans that Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is so far a fun game to play on your modern console. Once I finish the game, I will post a review. When? I don’t really know yet.

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