Toys and CollectiblesAction figures, statues, exclusives, and other merchandise. Beware: if you look here, you’re probably going to spend some money afterwards.
We live in a truly incredible time for action figures—whether you’re wanting to spend a couple hundred bucks or even just twenty, you can get well articulated, highly detailed recreations of some of your favourite characters from all sorts of shows, movies, comics, and games. But it means we also get this: amazingly intentionally old toys.
It looks beautiful, rendering beloved characters like Cloud, Tifa, Barrett, and Aeris (Aerith? Who’s Aerith? No one’s Aerith, not here, in my heart, goddammit Square-Enix) with the power of modern gaming graphics in a level of fidelity they’ve never been seen in before. Not even really in Advent Children, that CG movie that was bad except for that maybetwo fight scenes and we shouldn’t talk about it!
But anyway, they also had these action figures on display, where Cloud, Tifa, Barrett, Aeris, and all their friends and foes from the original game look exactly like the blocky, polygonal chibi blobs they looked like outside of battle in the original PlayStation game.
And I need them immediately.
There were no details about how and when fans either in or out of Japan will be able to get the figures—the accompanying placard implies they could even, much to the chagrin of my wallet, be blind-box items, with a mystery character teased for the set.
But I just…need to know how and when. I’ll import, I’ll do whatever. I need these chunky, blocky looking action figures on my desk, revelling in the majesty of the original Playstation’s attempts to bend polygonal 3D gaming to its limited technological will. They only have blurry eyes for faces! There’s enough sharp angles to send a mathematician into a headspin! They don’t even have hands! And I love them. They’re ugly and they’re perfect.
I never really understood the current fascination with retro action figures—why pay modern, premium pricing for a toy designed to look deliberately crappy? Turns out, I just need catering to my ‘90s kid childhood to realise what ‘80s kids have known for a while.
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In what should surprise absolutely no one, Final Fantasy VII Remake is drawing long lines at the Tokyo Game Show. I think people in Japan might be excited about this game. Call it a hunch!
Today is the first public date for the 2019 Tokyo Game Show. As soon as the general public started being let in, many attendees started making a beeline to either the Sony booth or the Square Enix to play the upcoming FFVII Remake.
At around 9:40 am, the end of the line at the Square Enix booth looked like this:
Sony had cut off the FFVII Remake line by 10 am, along with several other titles. The red stickers say that the demo sessions have ended for the day.
Square Enix, which had a significantly larger FFVII Remake set up with more demo stations, didn’t cut off the line until to sometime around 10:10 am or around thereafter.
Even the wait to take photos with Cloud’s Hardy-Daytona motorcycle is long. Square Enix passing out tickets for folks to come back later so they don’t have to stand in line for extended periods of time.
This is me going out on a limb, but I think people in Japan are excited about Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Blink and you’ll miss some of the brand new additions to Final Fantasy VII for the remake, as showcased in this new trailer that Square Enix put out in honor of the Tokyo Game Show this week.
Among other things, there’s a new boss fight with Reno, some sort of dart minigame, a brand new member of SOLDIER, a bike sequence with the NPC members of Avalanche, QTE pull-ups, a President Shinra hologram, and summons for Ifrit and Shiva, both of whom are obtained way after Midgar in the original version of Final Fantasy VII. (This remake, the first installment in what will be a larger series, takes place entirely in Midgar.)
FFVII Remake comes out on March 3, 2020. It will, we now know, include Cloud wearing a dress.
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
Final Fantasy VIIIRemastered is finally here, which means I can continue my long and storied history of never actually finishing Final Fantasy VIII because I am too busy playing Triple Triad. It’s a whole thing: I get a copy of Final Fantasy VIII, immediately start playing the in-game card game more than anything else, and then tragedy strikes. My disc gets scratched, or my save file is lost, or I need to clear hard drive space, or one of hundreds of other games demand my attention. Nevertheless, I love Triple Triad, and it’s a big reason I’m into card games in the first place.
Triple Triad is a card game you can play in Final Fantasy VIII that’s kind of like dominoes. Each player assembles a hand of five cards to use for the entire game and takes turns placing them on a 3×3 grid. Every card has four numbers from 0-9, one for each edge of the card. You want to place cards so their values are higher than they cards they’re played next to, causing opponents’ cards to be flipped while protecting your own cards. It’s extremely simple, and extremely satisfying.
But Final Fantasy VIII also makes Triple Triad incredibly rewarding to play not just because it’s a good in-game diversion but by seamlessly integrating it into the game’s world. Just about everyone in Final Fantasy VIII plays Triple Triad. The game has a button dedicated to asking other characters if they want to play, and most of them say yes. Each region of the game world has its own rules variants, so playing in Balamb, where the game starts, is slightly different than playing in places you visit later on. Regional house rules in a fictional card game are the sort of thing that makes a world feel alive and worth spending time in. There are side quests that stem from playing Triple Triad, and unrelated side quest goals can be achieved through playing Triple Triad. It gives the world texture.
Card games’ design constraints are compelling—small rectangles with one side only you can see, and one side everyone else can see. You can only fit so much information on a card, and you can fit even less when you try to make the card itself nice to look at, with beautiful art.
How card games solve for these constraints fascinates me. When digital card games like Triple Triad replicate physical card games successfully despite missing out on some of their primary appeals—their wonderful tacticlity, the satisfaction that comes with amassing a collection or admiring a well-constructed hand or deck—I feel a rush.
I love deck-building video games lots—and deck-building tabletop games too—but I wouldn’t have even tried them before Triple Triad showed me how fun they could be, how easy to slip into and suddenly become obsessive over. I never got into Magic: The Gathering or any of the fad collectible card games that spread in my youth, so for a long time card games for me were just limited to the kind of games you could play with a regular poker deck.
Final Fantasy VIII changed that. Even though I still, hilariously, have not finished it (I hope to someday soon) it still managed to make my world a little bit bigger, richer, and more varied. Now I love card games of all stripes, and can’t get enough of them.
I’ve spent much of the last week staring at the Switch eShop page for the Grandia HD Collection willing myself not to buy it. For me, it is probably the most alluring recent release on the system, a collection of two classic RPGs I’ve never played, available on the most pleasant and convenient console. That’s like catnip to me.
Something about the Switch makes me believe I can play anything, like buckets of free time will just spring from the system’s dock for me to scoop up and take with me as I play the thing in handheld mode. My pile of unfinished 3DS role-playing games should disabuse me of this notion, but you know what? The 3DS isn’t getting Baldur’s Gate ports.
Because of the unique combination of the Switch’s popularity and my own self-delusion, I get way more excited about old games popping up on the eShop than new ones. Sure, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is swell. I’m about 32 hours in and having a great time. But my PS1 copy of Final Fantasy VIII was rendered unplayable by scratches and I never got a new one, so I’m very much looking forward to finally finishing that game after years of somehow never getting spoiled. (Let’s ignore the fact that I bought it on Vita, because I am ill.)
I can’t help it. Every week I log on to the eShop to see what’s new and what’s on sale, and I’m almost never looking for actual new releases. I’m looking for ports and remasters, like they were some obscure VHS release of a TV show I watched in the ’90s. The Switch has turned me into a kind of digital flea market enthusiast, coming by every week to see if I can nab some rarity or old favorite I missed out on, a habit I maintain religiously even though what I usually see is just a pile of junk hoping to fool you into thinking it’s something you might want.
I’m a little conflicted about this because I personally loathe the way publishers make people repurchase games they already own for convenience and console manufacturers’ spotty track record of backwards compatibility. Video games should stick around in an accessible way, you know? To me, there is a distinction between a rerelease like the Grandia games—not exactly impossible to get a hold of, but not easy, especially for someone who doesn’t game on PC—and one like Final Fantasy VII, which feels like it has been rereleased on a new platform every year for the last three years.
At this point, I don’t really know what new release on Switch I’m truly excited about. I know there are some—Astral Chain, get at me—but what I want to know most is what old, hard-to-play-now game is going to make it to the system next. Maybe someday I will find my dear old frenemy, Chakan: The Forever Man, once more.
Bards gained the ability to play actual music in Final Fantasy XIV near the end of 2017 and have been annoying bar-goers with their covers of “All Star” and “One Winged Angel” ever since (or just beeping loudly like fire alarms). One talented bard had reimagined Final Fantasy XIV as a rhythm game, and I can’t stop watching their performances.
Nicorzea Game Music is a YouTube performer who covers Final Fantasy XIV’s fantastic soundtrack using in-game bard instruments. Composer Masayoshi Soken’s criminally underrated score makes for some tricky performances from up-tempo boss fight themes to moody environmental tunes. Nicorzea goes the extra effort to spruce up their performances—which are played on a controller and not handled by macros—and imagines them as a rhythm game. And damn, I’d love to play this hypothetical game.
Recent covers have focused on the game’s latest expansion “Shadowbringers” and its boss fight music. Soken’s score for the expansion is faster and has a variety of genres, most of which are a challenge to perform by hand. The scattershot “What Angel Wakes Me” or the industrial-edged boss theme “Insatiable” have different tones but are both memorable tunes that Nicorzea nails. They leave just enough of the original music underneath to really give a sense of how faithful the performance is.
Of course, if you’ve spent some time in big cities like Ul’dah, you might hear some less skillful performances of these tunes. Nicorzea’s dead-on pace and imaginative presentation really up the experience and leave me with a lingering question: If we have jump puzzles and Valentine’s Day mazes, maybe Square Enix will give us some better rhythm games than what that strange choir mini-game was from the Starlight Festival? Please?
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
There are moments in online games when leadership and authority are thrust upon us. In group-based content, like the various boss fights in Final Fantasy XIV, knowledge is power. If you’re in a group full of helpless newbies and you know the fight’s mechanics, you’re suddenly in charge. Earlier this week, I suddenly became the unwilling leader of a group of fresh-faced players. I ended up guiding us all to victory in one of the game’s tougher fights.
The “Eden” tier of raids arrived in Final Fantasy XIV some weeks ago, offering difficult fights that can still wipe some folks, even though these fights have been out for some time. There are also extreme modes for them, which increase the difficulty of these fights and require tons of coordination. When I logged into my weekly Eden normal mode runs, my groups easily defeated most foes. Then we had to fight Titan.
The Eden version of Titan is a reimagined, and much tougher, revamp of an earlier boss fight. It requires precise positioning to avoid getting hit hard, or else you could get entirely knocked off the platform you are fighting on. This particular run had another layer of difficulty: tons of players who knew nothing about the fight. That was fine; there’s an unspoken etiquette that you should tell folks if you’re new, and most of them obliged. Also, they could keep up with the pace of the fight, at least at first. I played as healer, keeping quiet and making sure folks didn’t die. But soon I found that even quality healing couldn’t carry the group. Eventually, through a process I never understood, the group decided I would be their leader and would guide them through mechanics. After all, I knew exactly where to stand and when in order to avoid massive attacks.
Much like Malvolio says in Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” Leadership may not always be a form of “greatness,” but it definitely is something that’s thrust upon folks. And for some reason, I had become Mama Bird, guiding these lovely first-timers through a difficult battle.
Responsibility, if I can be blunt, sucks. Most of the time. Despite my many attempts to enjoy life with a diet of books and companionable silence with the folks I care for, I often find myself inevitably put in charge of one thing or another in real life. As so it was in Final Fantasy XIV that I had to lead a gaggle of baby birds through a difficult fight. God bless them, they were trying, and each attempt showed further progress. But there were also the folks that felt were beyond help: the healer who seemed to be actively avoiding resurrecting their fallen comrades, the melee fighters who didn’t quite get that they needed to stand to Titan’s side for some attacks or else instantly get knocked into oblivion. The players who stood next to tanks and ate devastating damage when Titan “cleaved” and hit everyone in front of it. As healer, I had a few ways to help—healers have an amazing ability called “rescue” that can pull players right to them and out of harm’s way— but it was an uphill battle, one that was taking up almost all of the time limit the game allowed us for completing the fight.
Eventually, frustration kicked in. I, like Deus Ex’s Adam Jensen, “never asked for this.” So I made that clear: Hey goobers, I love you all and your dogged grit, but I have two more attempts in me before I gotta get out of this clusterfuck. (Okay, that’s not exactly what I said, but you get the gist.) I meant it; I had stumbled into this group as part of my “daily roulette,” a series of randomized encounters that dole out currency to buy gear. I just wanted to get my tomestones and get out.
After hearing my ultimatum, these bumbling children (all of whom, I will stress again, were good folks trying to clear content that was fresh to them) stepped it up. We added a marker above my head so they could follow me to safe spots. They pulled it off with only a few hiccups and, at last, defeated the boss. I walked away with six player commendations, which are largely meaningless kudos that mean players thought you were helpful. I passed on all the loot (I didn’t need it, after all) and then left the boss arena. It was nice to step up and lead, something that does happen to me in real life, but next time… maybe I’ll just keep my mouth shut and heal.
Later this year, Square Enix will put out a graphical remaster of Final Fantasy VIII for modern consoles. You may be pleased to learn that, thanks to its new high-def character models, this remaster will ruin a classic Final Fantasy meme.
It’s hard to tell who came up with this one, but it’s at least five years old. It’s a brief, beautiful moment from the ballroom dance scene early in Final Fantasy VIII’s story.
Squall, our hero, meets Rinoa, our heroine, for the first time. She pays him a wonderful compliment. He appreciates it.
This morning, Square dropped this bombshell:
Unbelievable. Squall, what do you think about this whole thing?
The Dancer is a new job to “Shadowbringers,” Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion. It’s a damage-dealing class that can attack at range and buff teammates. While I play a healer primarily, I have another character for damage jobs. Recently, I leveled my character’s Samurai and Monk jobs to the max level of 80. Monk, frankly, needs fixes. It feels way too slow and lost a lot of fun abilities in “Shadowbringers” in an effort to streamline jobs. Samurai can do a ton of big, bursty damage attacks that I enjoy a lot, but it’s a selfish class. You set up, do your big attacks, and repeat. Enjoyable, but not too dynamic. Dancer is astounding by comparison. Your attacks have a random chance of triggering combo chains that can then trigger even more abilities. It’s reactive; you need to see what abilities “proc” and react accordingly. And you need to periodically play a sort of DDR mini-game to keep your buffs up.
Even playing Dancer at early levels, I’m fairly certain I want to make it my main damage-dealing class. I’ll probably make the swap without too much guilt, but there is guilt nevertheless. I play on a role-playing server, and my regular damage character is a Monk narratively. There’s a certain strange obligation to keep that class at a high level and keep their Samurai skills sharp. I’m also already at the max level for them. Do I really want to grind out Dancer to max, suffering through the randomly generated dungeons of Heaven on High in order to get fast experience? The last time I did that, I nearly died…although that was because I was apparently developing a lung infection without realizing it. Go figure.
So this is where I stand: Dancer is amazing. It’s possibly one of the most fun and valuable classes in Final Fantasy XIV at the moment. Every second with it is a delight, but swapping means repeating a grinding process I’ve done twice already and abandoning playstyles that I’ve grown skillful at. That’s daunting, but I need to give myself the advice I’d give any Kotaku reader: “Play what is most fun for you, Heather.”
So I guess we’re back at it again in the Crystarium.
[/backflips, knocks down the nearest weapon shop sign]