Advent Gaming Calendar 2019 Day 22: Final Fantasy XII

Credit to JRPGgamer’s YouTube Channel

Originally I was going to go with “Zephyr Memories” from the DS and PC version of Final Fantasy III. It is such a beautiful song and sets the mood for the adventure that is about to unfold. Then I remembered Final Fantasy XII existed and my mind completely changes. Sonova chocobo does the music in this game kick ass. What is essentially Final Fantasy: Star Wars, the opening does a great job in letting you know that this is Final Fantasy, but gets straight to the point of what is going on.

The opening starts with the traditional prelude to the Final Fantasy series. An excellent thing to do in my opinion since it gets players familiar with the idea that this is a Final Fantasy. In an earlier entry, I mentioned how familiar themes are good to have in an opening to reassure fans this is what they are expecting and not something completely foreign. You see the world and it looks like a fantasy world with some futuristic elements represented. The visuals look astonishing especially if you are playing the Zodiac Age on PS4 or Xbox. The inviting feel of the world speaks grand adventure exploring this beautiful world on both land and air.

And then the music changes. We see not Darth Vader and his clones of other younglin killers to this tone that sounds like something played during a grand battle. That is a sinpet of “Flash of Steel,” one of the many great tracks in this game. You then see fleets of airships being deployed and massive armies fighting. You see airships falling out of the sky and striking the ground where more battles are taking place. The scene went from beautiful and wonderment to facing the harshness of war; grounding the player that there is a mission that needs to be done, and it won’t be an easy one. At the end, the music changes again to the classic fanfare that everyone knows; again returning to the familiarity of the series. I forgot to mention this, but until now, the prelude to Final Fantasy had not been used since Final Fantasy VI (technically it was used in XI, but only fancy people with internet back in the day could play it) and would be the last time it was used in a mainline entry (well again technically it is used in XIV, but not a mainline single player game). In the final scenes, the cast of characters are shown along with bosses and a final shot of a crystal (again we haven’t seen one of those since late game IX I guess). It felt like the developers wanted to knock this game out of the park by once again returning to their roots while also introducing some new ideas instead of changing the entire world altogether. I do not believe any other Final Fantasy game could come close to a stellar introduction than the one XII sets up (we will see what Final Fantasy XVI through C does though).

Tune in tomorrow for Day 23!

DanamesX

Advent Gaming Calendar 2019 Day 21: Metal Gear Solid 3 – Snake Eater

Credit to IGN Walkthoughs’ YouTube Channel

The names Snake. Naked Snake. I had to ask myself if I wanted to go with this opening or the one from Metal Gear Solid 2. MGS2’s opening feels classic with the theme song of the series playing in the background, but how could that beat that band, those visuals, or that singer!? Snake Eater hits it right out of the gate with that big opening that is a homage to classic Bond movies. It gets the player into the mindset of you are playing a spy, there will be a lot of stealth involved, and things are going to get sexy. This opening leaves such a good impression to anyone who hears it that my wife wanted to talk about it as someone who just heard it for the first time. I will turn things over to her now.

Okay. There are three things about this opening that I love, just from the standpoint of the song and opening, not even relating to the game.

1: The homage to classic 60s and 70s Bond movies is beautiful. I grew up watching those movies with my dad (Diamonds are Forever is still my favorite) and just the composition of the song and they way it’s sung is spot on with that style.

2: The singer is AMAZING! As someone who has a vocal music degree, the singer, Cynthia Harell, (who also sang the ending song “I Am the Wind” for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) kills it. The soft opening lines to the powerful chorus and the intense bridge is exactly what this song needed.

3: The song itself. When he sit back and actually listen to the lyrics, it is just an emotional and powerful song.

“I give my life, Not for honor, but for you. In my time, there’ll be no one else. Crime, it’s the way, I fly to you! I’m still in a dream, Snake Eater”

Those are the lines from the chorus. If that isn’t emotional by itself, wait until you hear the context from the game. Carlton showed me the ending cutscenes (very very long ending cutscenes) and the way the final shots of the game go along with those exact lyrics is just amazing.

I have never played this game, probably won’t, but I will say I love this opening because of everything about it. And when you add in the context of the game, it just gets ten times better.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled nerdy gamer boy. I’m off to try and find a shiny Eevee. (They are my favorite.)

Thank you Kat! And thank you everyone for tunning in!

Tune in tomorrow for Day 22!

DanamesX

Advent Gaming Calendar 2019 Day 16: Kingdom Hearts

Credit to gocalibergaming’s YouTube Channel

Oh Kingdom Hearts you magnificent confusing thing you. I never got into the Kingdom Hearts franchise until I started dating my wife. Her passion for these games finally peaked my interest and I gave the games a shot.This opening represent mine and possibly others first thoughts when playing this game.

What is going on? Why are his shoes so big? Why does the ocean hate everyone? Who are these people? Oh my those PS2 in game models! Why is this song so catchy? What the hell is going on? Why do I have a feeling one of these characters is going to be completely useless? Why does the water not ruin his spiky hair? Is drowning a thing in this world? Where’s Mickey Mouse? The game promoted Disney characters so where is Mickey? That guy with white hair is evil right? I played enough JRPGs to know white hair characters are evil. Does this kid know how to dress? Why is his belt so high? This looks nothing like Disney World! Why is Snow White at the bottom of the ocean. What even is this game anymore?

….I’m sure it will be cleared up by the end of the game!

Jokes aside, I really do like this opening for being extremely cryptic and memorable. Not only are there things hidden in the scenes, but it is accompany by “Hikari” (or “Simple and Clean”) by Utada Hikaru. This would become the main theme of the series and it fits very well with the narrative. You could play this song almost anywhere and at least one reluctant fan will jump up and start singing along. We will revisit the idea of iconic themes later on.

Just like the events of Kingdom Hearts, nothing is ever straightforward and once you get somewhere, Normura stubs his toe and gets a new idea that he shoves in the game somewhere; confusing things much further. Everything in the opening looks cryptic and tends to serve no purpose. The only explanation that I have is that Sora is trapped in the currents of an endless ocean. He is pulled by the currents to go where it tells him to go and never of his own free will. And once he is able to get out of the water, some crazy force tells him that he is not allowed on solid ground and literally drops him back into the ocean. I will say that the final shot with the stained glass of Snow White was visually impressive and it got me wondering why Snow White was featured. The only thing that I could think of is like how Snow White was the first animated Disney film, the represented the beginning of Sora’s journey to what would hopefully be a multimillion dollar franchise.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 17!

DanamesX

Advent Gaming Calendar 2019 Day 10: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army

Continuing the episodic feel of game openings is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army. In Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army, you play as Raidou Kuzunoha in fictional 20th century Japan during the Taisho period. That is about all of my knowledge of this game since I have yet to play it (will take a copy if one is laying around). Even though I have not play Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army, I can tell it is a good time just based on this catchy opening.

The opening scene showcases our main cast of Raidou, Shohei, Gouto, Tae, and random bad guy of the evening. That episodic charm is shown of by showing an everyday lifestyle of each character. Raidou chases people all day, Shohei and Gouto have Tom and Jerry moments, and Tae likes to eat concrete with her camera. I fell that the story could be about anything and the opening still fit. The showcase of the paranormal aspect with humans turning into demons highlights the interesting twist to this detective show and how the demons known in the franchise fit into the plot. The last shot at the end with Raidou pulling out all of his demons to take on the army surrounding him feels powerful and shows the confident level that he showcases during his job.

Hey! I got through that whole paragraph without saying Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army! Do you realize how crazy long of a title that is? It is not as bad as its sequel, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2- Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon. That feels even longer to say. I would include that intro along with this one, but that one feels like the opening to a specific arc rather than the overall series. Now if you excuses me, I need to see how many times I can say Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army. ShinMegami Tensei:Devil Summoner-Raidou Kuzunohavs.theSoullessArmy ShinMegami Tensei:Devil Summoner-Raidou Kuzunohavs.theSoullessArmy ShinMegami Tensei:Devil Summoner-Raidou Kuzunohavs.theSoullessArmy ShinMegami Tensei:Devil Summoner-Raidou Kuzunohavs.theSoullessArmy ShinMegami Tensei:Devil Summoner-Raidou Kuzunohavs.theSoullessArmy ShinMegami Tensei:Devil Summoner-Raidou Kuzunohavs.theSoullessArmy ShinMegami Tensei:Devil Summoner-Raidou Kuzunohavs.theSoullessArmy

Tune in tomorrow for Day 11!

DanamesX

Advent Gaming Calendar 2019 Day 9: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Credit to GTA Series Videos’s YouTube Channel

Not all openings have to contain cryptic messages of what their game is all about. That is where the lay back 80’s callback of Vice City comes in. To me it feels like starting an episode of a show that I am watching. The things that you do in Grand Theft Auto almost feel episodic in some nature. If you stick to the main storyline, it is like playing through each episode of this chaotic 80’s show; while goofing around causing as much mayhem feels like the season(s) that no one talks about but secretly enjoy.

The little retro login at the beginning felt cute, but could be put into any logo opening scene and you would not know what to expect. It is when you see the style of the “Rockstar Games Presents” font and colors that you begin to feel the aesthetic, and then the beat drops. Its something about that smooth groove jazz that teleport your body and soul into the era. Funky attitudes, questionable dress attire, and the need to roller blade where ever you go makes you want to revisit the era again. Vice City also gets its charm by being loosely based on Miami, FL. The sunny beaches, hanging palm trees, and big city to explore are in my opinion the perfect image of the 80’s. While not much else to go off, I hope people get when I describe this as an episodic opening. You can choose to watch it since it is short, or you skip right over it. Honestly it is that sax player in the background that makes me want to pick up the saxophone, but I’m a brass player…and more than four buttons confuse me.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 10!