As of now, the demo version of The Crystal’s Tale, the game I’ve been developing, has been uploaded! Feel free to give it a look here.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: I was in the process of editing and revising the first three books in the series to match the current canon of the Black Crystal series, and I managed to succeed at doing so with The Origin, the first book in the series! But after looking at both The Essence and Elysium, the longest goddamn book I’ve ever written, I determined that I’m too lazy and tired to even try editing those books to match the current canon and revisions to the series’ world, lore, and all that good shit. At the time of writing this little “essay”, so to say, I’ve been putting The Kingdom, the fourth installment in the series, on hold for well over half a year without any progress due to a lack of motivation, and because I’ve been stuck with the past few books. Sure, a good author might stick with the program and do what they can to make sure all the books are as best as they can be, but who said I was a good author? People might like my stories, but my methods are far from effective. The older I get, the more tired I get, so I’d much rather just move forward with the story than feel stagnant and try making everything work with shit I already wrote. Don’t get me wrong. I am beyond passionate about this series. It just feels redundant to republish books that have been out for the past few years just because of a few revisions, so I’m making this recap free to read and open to the public. I hope this helps!
Starting off, I would like to provide clarification to all the revisions that have been made to the Black Crystal canon so we’re all on the same page by the time The Kingdom is out. Ever since beginning my D&D campaign Legends of the Black Crystal, a few things have been changed for the sake of continuity, or rather, to make more sense. The most important thing is the relation between Chris and the Royal Family from the 1800s. The Essence originally indicated that 200 years passed between the Royal Family being turned to stone and Chris’s story beginning in the surprisingly modern city of Nakura, but this is officially false as of the new canon.
I’ll explain it in more detail in the section of this essay detailing the plot of The Essence, but what happened was that Bartholomew’s curse spread around the world of Inclusia, which is where the series takes place, turning everyone to stone. The cities of Alswell and Nakura were constructed by a select group of people who had knowledge on interdimensional travel to house refugees who managed to escape the curse’s grasp. A barrier was placed around the two cities, and that barrier was set to protect everyone living in the two cities. However, since the people contracted to build them were familiar with interdimensional travel, they took inspiration from modern day Earth, which is indeed a part of the Black Crystal multiverse, since the characters Arianna Hernandez and Leon LaHayes both come from our little Blue Planet. As a result, it gives the aura of what 2017 in our world would look like, but it is still the 1800s in the rest of Inclusia. The contractors also had the ability to alter the memories of those who lived in the two cities, convincing many of the younger generations to believe they grew up on Earth and not Inclusia, which is why finding out what the world truly is becomes such a shock to the cast. The true amount of time has only been a few decades. Chris is actually the grandson of Garen and Lenora. Chris’s mother Elena and her sister Misty are Garen and Lenora’s children.
The next big thing is the geographical changes. Originally, the nation the story took place in was called the 48 Provinces, indicative of an alternate version of the United States, and Nakura was originally set to be in that world’s version of Canada. However, after deciding that my D&D campaign would take place in this world, I decided to flesh the world of Inclusia out more and give the world more original names. This is indicated in the rewritten version of The Origin, but the continent is now called Unistylaad, and there are only nine provinces. Orelivia is what used to be Oregon, and Washorick is what used to be Washington. I made sure the names were still close to the original so it wasn’t difficult to get used to them, especially for people who have read the original editions of these books. The city of Portland became the city of Livia, the city of Olympia simply turned into Olympe, the river crossing outpost Hood River became Hooded River, the militarized city of Eugene became Eugelene, and the village of Grants Pass was named Alorae. There are more towns than these, but these are the ones most prominent at the beginning of the series, so I wanted to provide clarification for them. There are six more provinces, which we will touch upon one day, but I’ll name them here: Ishtorai is a desert nation to the east of Washorick and Orelivia. South of Ishtorai is a smaller province named Selmor, where many witches practice arcane arts deemed illegal by the sovereign of Ishtorai. On a southmost peninsula below the entire continent are two isolated provinces named Caligri and Decimbra. To the far east are the three united provinces: Ohren, Flarioc, and the empire of Yorjun, which is where the provincial leaders meet to discuss political matters every few years.
The next thing isn’t a super prominent thing in the books, at least, but I thought it deserved attention: the mystery of the moon in Hooded River. At night, the moon turns green and demons emerge from the darkness. In the original version of The Origin, this was never explained. I meant for it to be more important, but I was writing the original version of the book on a deadline, and I think I just didn’t have the time to explain it. This was finally explained in our D&D campaign. This anomaly is called the Emerald Moon. Hooded River is a weak spot in reality. In other words, it’s a door to a place called the Road Between Realms. The veil that protects the prime material plane from other planes of existence is particularly weak in Hooded River, so at night, creatures from other dimensions, including those of the Infernal type who come from Hell itself, can easily pass through and enter the prime material plane from Hooded River. This was how Bartholomew managed to get such a massive legion of demons on his side in The Origin. But what does this have to do with the Emerald Moon? It’s a bit strange, you see. There are legends in Inclusia of the gods. Inclusia is a world that was not created by gods (we’ll get into that later), so the gods themselves are fascinated by this planet. Many of the gods worshipped by people living in Inclusia grew jealous of the fact that a world could exist without their will sustaining it, and thought the world deserved to be destroyed. Other gods knew this was wrong and tried to prevent them from destroying it, causing a war among the celestials. The gods who decided Inclusia was not worthy of existing were deemed “fallen gods” and were sealed away in the moon as punishment for their attempted crime. Legends say the moon turns green at certain places in the world because those are the only places where the blood of the fallen gods are visible.
Whew; that was a longer explanation than I thought. We’ll get to lore at some point, but I wanted to let you guys know some of the things that changed. Another small detail is that Chris isn’t actually “in love” with Mallory; he’s just infatuated with her, but he doesn’t really know the difference. That’s about it, in terms of revisions. If I come up with more, I’ll probably add them in the plot explanations.
The History of Inclusia
Ah, here’s something I’ve been wanting to explain for a long time—the interesting past of the world of Inclusia. I’ll keep it short though, because you can’t reveal everything; it wouldn’t be fun that way, but here’s some basic history most characters in the series are at least somewhat aware of, so I feel that you as the reader deserve to know as well.
Like I said before, Inclusia was not created by gods. It was created during a time long gone here on Earth. Long ago, we had humans and other non-humans, like monsters and elves, living among one another. Many of these people felt invisible because society shunned them or ignored them, making them feel like the world didn’t even belong to them. Some of these people even took their lives, but those who lived through it wished for a world they could call their own. Their will was so powerful that one day, these people found themselves plucked from their own reality and brought to a new planet specifically for them. This was created by a power named the Will of the Forgotten. The people who felt they didn’t belong anywhere found a home here in Inclusia, and created a society based on never making people feel alone and forgotten like they were on Earth. Hence the name Inclusia: the world was meant to be inclusive.
For many millennia, this form of society worked well. The world was big enough to carry all the people who belonged to it. The planet was quite literally made for them, by them. It fit everyone’s needs as their society developed. But one day, the peace came to an end. No one truly knows when or how it began, but humans began going around killing everything that wasn’t human or elven, believing that they would rise up and overpower humanity as they grew power-hungry. Just like the humans back on Earth. Humans wanted to make sure they stayed on top and weren’t wiped out, and ended up committing genocide in their act of trying to avoid genocide. After a hundred years of slaughter, the monsters evolved to the constant barrage of violence and got strong enough to provide a threat to the humans. The fighting only escalated until the world was literally stained with blood. Tired of the bloodshed, an elven woman named Sylvia Godswood rose to power and traveled the world, using diplomacy and kindness, and occasional head-busting, to quell the violence. It is said that her benevolence was so radiant that those who saw her beauty and heard her voice immediately stopped fighting and wept for the world, their ancestors, and the people they once considered their enemies. Sylvia slapped some sense into the people of Inclusia, reminding them what the whole point of the world was supposed to be, and they began rebuilding.
That was 12,000 years ago now. Save for some skirmishes and outside threats from other dimensions, Inclusia has not seen a battle quite as large as that battle, which was called the War of Cleansing. The only battle in recorded history that comes close is the War of 1806. Bartholomew Cadence, a mysterious man collaborating with the seemingly malevolent deity the Black Crystal, brought a legion of demons in an attempt to overthrow the kingdom of Livia. At the same time, Chancellor Anthony Guinness launched an attack on Livia with his own military force to take advantage of the fact that they were preoccupied with Bartholomew’s forces. Though the losses were heavy, Queen Maevis Morenthia managed to drive their foes away with magic unlike anything people in Orelivia or Washorick had ever seen. Bartholomew disappeared after the defeat of his demons, but came back later, revealing his power to possess the bodies of others.
The story’s weird, basically. Feel free to read the books as they are, and if you need reference for the revisions, they are all here. And if you do have any questions about the series, feel free to ask in the comments section of this website, or the YouTube video if you’re watching that version (which will come out soon if it isn’t already out). Either way, it’s time for me to finally get back to work on The Kingdom, so I hope you all have a great day and look forward to it!
The Tales series is something I meant to get into way sooner than I actually did. Back when I was a teenager, I guess you can say I started with Tales of Phantasia, only it was before there was an English patch for it. I just remember being astonished at not only the visual style for it being a SNES game, but also surprised that there was voice acting in it. I didn’t play much of it because of the language barrier, but still, this is a series that has always been at the back of my mind. Even when I was a younger teenager, I’d heard some of Motoi Sakuraba’s work from Tales of Symphonia. Since then, I’d been wanting to play this series even more.
Flash forward six or seven years into the future. As an adult, I’ve spent most of my gaming time with Persona, Final Fantasy, Shin Megami Tensei, and Dragon Quest, and I’ve played most, if not all the games in each series so far. (I haven’t beaten them yet because it takes me forever to get through games, but still.) I’m rather burned out on the RPGs I’d been playing, so I ask a good friend of mine what RPGs he’d recommend that aren’t in those series, so later, he sends me this massive list of recommendations. One of the games on there was Tales of Vesperia. I’m pretty sure that game is available on most modern gen consoles now, but I decided to grab the PS4 version. (Though if I knew it was on the Switch, I probably would have gotten it for that instead.)
The moment I booted up the game, I fell in love with the anime-esque art style. Sakuraba’s music hit me with a wave of nostalgia from my years of listening to Tales of Symphonia music. The voice actors all sounded familiar and almost embraced me emotionally with a sense of welcoming, like I was coming home from a long journey, if that cheesy comparison makes any sense. After the prologue, I was raring to go. I loved how the dungeon-crawling worked, though I did admittedly get lost frequently in the first dungeon because I was just not all that observant. It took me a little bit to adapt to the combat style, but eventually, I got the hang of it. It reminded me of what a traditional turn-based RPG would look like if it all played out in real time, and I still love it. It makes grinding not feel as much like a grind.
I don’t really have much to say since I’m only seven hours in and haven’t had much time to play it since booting it up, but I can safely say I am absolutely in love with this game. The characters are all so charming, the world feels amazing, the classic RPG elements make it feel familiar and comfortable to play, and even though I’m currently stuck on a boss right now, I’m still having an amazing time with the game. If you’re looking for a fresh RPG that also shares similarities with what we RPG fanatics have come to know and love, I’d highly recommend picking it up, or at least listening to the music. Motoi Sakuraba is a genius.
I’m a major fan of Bravely Default. I love the characters, I love the story, the art style, the unique take on turn-based combat, and the soundtrack of course. (All hail our lord and savior Revo, who is making a return in Bravely Default II.) I still have year to beat the game, but I am working on it as we speak. I spent 40 grinding, which is why it’s taken me so long to get through the plot, but when you play the game, you understand why. There’s a good incentive for grinding. Anyway, once that was done, I finally got the rest of the job classes I was missing, at least, the ones I could access, and progressed the story.
At that point, I finally made it to Chapter Five. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a point in the story where the story sort of repeats itself in a way. You have to go around the world again and re-awaken the Four Crystals of Light, and every single boss you’ve fought in the game is back for you to thwart again. Before going into the game, I’d heard complaints about this part of the game. Perhaps it’s because I’m not far enough myself, but I don’t quite understand the complaints. People talk about it being redundant and boring, which I can understand. It is redundant, I will agree with that, but you’re not just playing the same part of the game all over again. It’s much more than that.
That is where my love for this part of the game comes in. The moment I heard the familiar voice greeting Tiz back in Caldisla after entering the Holy Pillar, I got chills. When I saw that it was just Tiz in the inn, I was a little worried. It made me wonder if the entire story as a whole would just reset, like what I’ve heard Bravely Second does if you don’t press the Start button at a certain point in time, but once the rest of the group come back up talking about how weird everything is, my worries disappeared.
Sure, the plot sort of “reset” itself in a way, but not in the way you might think. After the four protagonists discussed the matter and looked around a little, they realized that it wasn’t time travel. They were in another version of the world they knew. The people who entered the Holy Pillar with them aboard Grandship also were aware of these changes, so not everything was the same.
One of my favorite elements of this parallel world deal was how the boss fights were treated. The fights are pretty much the same as they were in the initial world, only they have higher stats, essentially. It wasn’t the fights themselves, however. It was the context behind them. Many of the bosses acted as though they knew the protagonists, some of them seemed confused by their existence. Some of them even had an inkling that they didn’t belong in that world.
The first time you fight all these bosses, they feel like such evil, almost stereotypical villainous archetypes. However, when you fight them the second time, they suddenly feel more human. Even the protagonists suddenly start feeling bad for killing some of them. The best/worst part is that it’s all optional. You could go this entire chapter without killing these bosses, but you do it because you want to see everything the story has to offer. That’s the case for me, at least. I admittedly did feel bad killing some of them. I suppose that’s the genius behind this game.
Regardless, all of this is to say that Chapter Five of Bravely Default is actually really good. Despite its redundancy, the narrative finds a way to make the game feel fresh, and show you that there’s more than one side to everything. Now after writing this, I’m in the mood to play more, so I think I’ll do just that. I hope you all have a wonderful day!
With all the hype surrounding games coming out soon, Final Fantasy VII Remake has been one of the many incredible games announced to come out soon. The original Final Fantasy VII had such a major impact on the gaming world in 1997 that it seemed near impossible to reach that level with a remake.
Enter Square Enix.
They managed to capture the original essence of the game so well while making it feel like a new game entirely in such a perfect way that it’s unbelievable. The characters feel more alive than they ever have, the world feels fleshed out and refined, and the music is the best we have ever heard it. Bringing back original composer Nobuo Uematsu was an incredible move on the dev team’s part, because the reorchestrated soundtrack does more justice for the original music than expected. If you have a PS4 and you haven’t tried it yet, the demo is available for free on there. Feel free to give it a go if you want to feel how it plays!
My history with Final Fantasy VII is a little strange, I’ll admit. I actually have an old YouTube video from two years ago where I discussed half-assed reasons why I didn’t like the game at the time. Which is ironic when you consider what this blog page is all about. My philosophy on video games has changed so much in recent years. If you’re interested in watching past me try to explain stuff that doesn’t make sense, here is the video for you.
My history with Final Fantasy VII began when I was about 14 years old. I was just getting into the series at the time. Before I was 12, I didn’t even know what Final Fantasy was. All I knew of it was the name. My love for the series started with a classic DS game called Ring of Fates, which was part of the Crystal Chronicles spinoff series, and the GameBoy Advance port of Final Fantasy IV. Both games inspired my love of the series, and the latter was what sparked my love for combining fantasy with sci-fi.
I had more access to the internet when I was 12 years old, so when I was working on my books at the time, I would listen to music from the Final Fantasy series almost exclusively. I was obsessed with Uematsu’s work, especially with the music from his former band The Black Mages. Combining metal and rock with Final Fantasy music? Count me in.
Once I started high school, many of the people I met there were fans of the series and helped me access it a little more. By that, I mean introducing me to the age-old solution for playing games when you’re part of a middle-lower class family: emulation. Sure, it’s illegal, but my rebel teenage self didn’t give a rip. (Full disclosure: I still use emulators, but only to play games I already own legally on my computer and to play fan translations of Japanese SNES games. Even then, I still buy legal copies of said Japanese games when I can afford them for the sake of legality.)
I finally looked into the rest of the series and played the games my old 1GB Windows XP computer could run, which was pretty much anything for NES, SNES, and GBA. One game I always wanted to play myself was the aforementioned Final Fantasy VII. It was one of the games in the series that always seemed to evade me for the longest time. I knew the gist of the plot, the characters, and I’d heard the incredible soundtrack, but never got to play it. I saw a few episodes from a Let’s Play for it back in the day (by the YouTuber HCBailly, if anyone’s interested; he’s a great RPG YouTuber and I’d recommend checking his stuff out), and I even saw the movie Advent Children multiple times and played Crisis Core, but other than that, I never got to see the game firsthand.
It wasn’t until I was 18 years old and working full time that I got the opportunity to try Final Fantasy VII for the first time. I got the port of it for the PS3, and I did enjoy it, though over time, I began to wonder why it was so beloved. Like I mention in the video I posted, most of the Final Fantasy hoodies I found online were for Final Fantasy VII. Nowadays, I understand why, but back then, not so much, and it annoyed me, which, for some reason, ruined my experience at the time. I have no idea why. I was young and dumb, apparently.
A couple years ago, however, I finally gave the game another shot and pushed past the point in the game I never made it past. I reached the point where you learn the story of Red XIII and Cosmo Canyon, and I cried like a baby. It was that point in the game where I finally understood why this game was so beloved. It wasn’t just an overhyped game. It was a storytelling masterpiece. The cinematic elements, the character stories, the music, everything about it was perfect. Save for a few typos, but almost every game, if not every game, has a typo somewhere.
I still have yet to beat it; I got to the final Sephiroth fight about a month ago, but he just spammed status ailments on my party and I could never beat him for that reason (I can only blame myself for not being as prepared as I expected), but still, I got to experience the rest of the game in my 70-hour playthrough, and it was amazing. There were very few parts of the game I actually disliked, and they were just minigames. I loved everything else about the game.
With the release of the demo, I was immediately on it. I initially had my doubts, like I’m sure many people did. Or perhaps it wasn’t as much “doubt” as it was reluctance. The original Final Fantasy VII tells its story in such an incredible way. It was anyone’s guess as to whether it would feel the same, or even better.
I can confirm that it truly does the original game justice. Of course, that’s just my opinion and you can form any opinion on the game you’d like, but I personally love it. Cloud’s snarky attitude is back, the members of AVALANCHE feel more alive and fleshed out than they ever did, the combat feels fluid and smooth and combines turn-based with real-time combat perfectly, the writing is clever, witty, and somehow different from the original enough to feel fresh, but also similar enough to where you can tell it’s the final draft version of the original script. Not to mention the soundtrack. The reorchestrated music still gives me chills. It has what’s called a “dynamic soundtrack”, where the music fluidly changes depending on the circumstances, like whether or not you’re in battle and such things like that.
All in all, I can safely say that this remake is going to be mind-blowing to those willing to let their minds be blown. When you play it, go into it with an open mindset. Whether or not you enjoy it will be up to your own personal tastes, but if you were a fan of the original and are willing to adapt to the new combat system (which is really easy to get the hang of, especially for someone like me, who sucks at action-based combat), I think you’re really going to enjoy this game. I may even start a playthrough of it on the day of release on my Twitch and YouTube. We’ll have to see.
This game has been a big discussion point among the RPG community, or pretty much anyone who wanted to give this game a try. As is expected in this day and age of Gamers™ thinking they know better than developers, it’s received its fair share of harsh criticism and unnecessary backlash. Before anyone gets all up in arms, I will say that yes, criticism is fine, but negative attitudes and dragging people down for actually enjoying this game is not. Neither is insulting the developers, especially when they went through hell to get this game made. If you want to be angry at someone, blame the corporate side of Square Enix for putting such strenuous deadlines on the developers when they were already having a tough time. Regardless, this game has been out for almost a few years now and I’ve beaten it a couple times, so I figured I’d share my thoughts on it.
Allow me to apologize for my initial frustration regarding the topic. As a fan of the game myself, I’ve heard my fair share of berating and have grown rather tired of it. Thankfully, I don’t hear it as much these days, but it was particularly bad over the past few years. With the remake of Final Fantasy VII coming out in just barely under a month, everyone’s attention is turned towards that anyway. Mine included, to be perfectly honest, but that’s a conversation for another post at another time. (Right now, I’m just getting through my backlog of drafted posts I never finished. Hashtag procrastination.)
Final Fantasy XV was a magical experience for me. That could be said for every game in the series. Over the years, I had the amazing opportunity to play every game in the series. Unfortunately, not FFXI, but that’s simply due to a lack of access. Regardless, the point remains. Ever since I was a kid, Final Fantasy has always intrigued me, and it inspired my love of combining sci-fi and fantasy into one genre in my own writing. Something about the music, the combat, the setting, the stories, the characters, all of it was majorly influential on my career as an author and even a music composer. FFXV was my first PS4 game. It was the reason I bought a PS4 in the first place, and I was beyond excited about it.
I remember first seeing screenshots of it in an old Game Informer magazine back in 2010 (I think) when it was called Final Fantasy Versus XIII. I remember the old slogan “A fantasy based on reality.” I remember eagerly following every trailer or article on this new game for the duration of the development process and becoming enamored with this mystery game. Then I remember the day they revealed the title change and decided to simply call it Final Fantasy XV. I still have chills remembering the hype surrounding that reveal trailer. It was incredible, and remembering that feeling reminds me of my passion for video games all over again.
The moment Kingsglaive came out, I bought it as quickly as I could. I wanted to get my hands on anything related to Final Fantasy XV, and that was my first stop. While it was downloading, however, I saw that there was a livestream for the Abbey Road Studios performance of select songs from the FFXV soundtrack, a concert where Yoko Shimomura herself, the composer, would be attending, so I had to watch that. That was my first true glimpse into the music. I was already well in love with Shimomura’s work from some of the other games she’s done music for, but this concert put me in a trance. The music was just so beautiful, and getting to hear it performed live, even from a computer, was a worthwhile experience. Afterward, I got to watch Kingsglaive, a film designed to be watched before playing the actual game since it helps fill some of the plot in that you might not understand otherwise. Even the film was amazing as well, and a perfect compliment to the adventure that would soon follow. I won’t spoil any of the plot if you haven’t seen it, but if you like FFXV at all, I would highly recommend it.
Finally, the moment of truth. The game came out in November of 2016, if I recall correctly. It was around the time that I was finally regaining my passion for writing after a year of stagnation. I bought the game a week before I could even afford a PS4. I just wanted to assure that I had a copy before anything else. Then once I got a PS4, I could only think about getting the game booted up and finally giving it a try. I had to work all day that day, so I simply had to wait.
Once I got home and booted the game up, I was immediately in love. The brotherly dynamic between the four protagonists, the compelling story that begins where it ends and then takes you back to where it all started, and the oddly real yet fantastical world you get to spend the game in all drew me into the world of FFXV, and I loved every moment of the game.
I’d spend as much time as I could doing sidequests, exploring dungeons, anything to allow me to stay in this amazing world for as long as I could. I’d look for every radio in the game to listen to the numerous NPCs that spoke on it. I had so much fun with the game, and it was just such a wonderful experience.
The last few chapters hit like a truck, though. I played from chapter 11 to the end of the game in one sitting, and it was emotionally overwhelming, to say the least. By the time I beat the game, I actually had to set it aside for a few months before revisiting it. I did not expect the game to go that hard on the story, nor that it would be that emotional. The first eight chapters set up a false sense of security in a way, only for the last chapters of the story to break your heart.
Even so, my love for the game has not wavered. I still enjoy the game every time I play it. Since more time has passed since its release, they have also added many new features that make the game feel better to play as well, so I’d say now’s as good a time as any to play it. Especially with the release of the Royal Edition. I’m such a fan of the game that I have both the day one release and the Royal Edition, mostly for collector’s sake, but still. This game is an incredible experience, and I would definitely recommend playing it with an open mind. Just don’t play the end of the game as quickly as I did if you get emotionally overwhelmed easily.
I apologize for not exactly uploading these as frequently as I originally intended when creating this website. I’ve just been up to a lot lately. I recently finished writing my latest novel, I’ve been spending more time with my family, and I’m getting into digital art now, so I’m sure I’ll be posting some of that on here eventually. But regardless, we’re not here to talk about all of that. I would like to talk about a very overlooked game: Persona 1. Specifically the PSP version, since I’ve never been able to play the PS1 version.
I don’t have much of a history with this game in particular, so there isn’t a long rant awaiting you this time like there has been in the past. Like many fans of the Persona series, the original trilogy was sort of a mystery to me for a while, given that Persona 3 was my introduction to the series. So when I got Persona 1, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Funny enough, pretty much the entire first hour I played of the game, it immediately gave me Shin Megami Tensei if vibes. The whole scenario of hopping between one dimension and another reminded me an awful lot of the series’ predecessor, and I was quite pleased with how it handled. The characters had a fun and unique dynamic, the music was fantastic, and I fell in love with the first person dungeon-crawling elements I’d come to know and love playing games like the old school Shin Megami Tensei games or the Etrian Odyssey series.
In terms of the combat, there was a bit I didn’t understand initially. It felt like regular turn-based RPG combat, but its proximity-based system threw me for a loop initially. Depending on characters’ placements on the map, their attacks could only reach a certain distance. Some regular melee attacks could attack just one enemy, some could attack multiple, the list goes on. I got sort of used to it, though my patience wore somewhat thin during my first attempt at playing the game. I got to the warehouse beneath the SEBEC building, and suddenly the game felt much more difficult. I stopped playing for quite some time. It wasn’t that I disliked it at the time. I just knew I wasn’t ready to play it.
I finally picked it up again months after, deciding to start over from the beginning, and I had way more fun with it. I don’t know what was different, necessarily. Maybe I just understood the combat more. I took more advantage of the auto battle feature when level grinding, which is something I never do in RPGs for some reason. As soon as I started doing that, it felt like I was suddenly playing the game the way I was meant to.
There isn’t much I can say about the game without just getting redundant, but it has quickly become one of my favorite games in the series. The music is just so good, the characters are well-written, the combat is fun once you’re used to it, and the story itself is a wild ride. Like I mentioned, I had no idea what I was getting into when I first played, but the game certainly went places I never expected it to. In my personal opinion, I feel like this game is a must-play for any Persona fans. If you’re used to the newer games, the combat can feel a little slow at first, but you quickly become accustomed to it. It is a fantastic game, and I hope that maybe this has shone some light on why I love it so much.
If you’re interested, I’ve been doing a blind playthrough for this game on my Twitch/YouTube! It’s very intermittent in terms of when I play it, so the playthrough is far from over, but I’ll put the playlist here if you’re interested. In any case, I hope you have a wonderful day!
This is such a fascinating song that I had to write an entire article about it. Maybe not a long article, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on this song and why it’s personally one of my favorite tracks in the whole Persona 4 soundtrack. People talk about it being boring, and while they’re allowed to have their own opinions, I couldn’t agree less than I already do.
Maybe it’s because of this following fact. I’m not the biggest fan of Persona 4‘s soundtrack in general, at least, in comparison to the other games’ soundtracks. (My personal favorites are the soundtrack of P1, both the PSP and PS1 versions, P2: Eternal Punishment, P3, and P5.) People talk about it being too slow for the “true final battle” theme, and yes, it is a little slow, but it’s incredible. This track just stands out to me more than most songs in the P4 soundtrack do because of its intimidating and ominous nature. The true final boss is most certainly a formidable foe, and this song is probably the most fitting song Shoji Meguro could have composed for it.
In a game with music that gives off a pop/rock vibe, a song like this, with a classical orchestra feeling, really just provides that atmosphere change that really shows you you’re in the endgame now. Even The Mist, another one of my favorite tracks from P4, doesn’t scream “final boss” like this song does. At least to me, anyway. All of this is my own opinion, and I can absolutely see why people would disagree with me. But I’m coming from the perspective of a former choir/music theory major. In the years I performed in choir and have studied music theory, I learned to be able to feel what music was saying through the timbre of the instruments, the way the time signature is utilized, the cadence of the melody as it combines with the background harmonies, the list goes on.
My point is that just about every song out there tells a story, and it doesn’t need lyrics to tell that story. You can understand what it’s saying through close listening and truly immersing yourself in the song. This song gives off the perfect foreboding aura such an intimidating final boss deserves. It sort of reminds me of the song “Transient Butterfly” from the PS1 version of the first Persona game, at least in its structure and what sort of feeling it’s giving off. Except unlike that song, “The Genesis” has that bit of hope at the end of the game where it brings things back full circle with the melody of “Reach Out to the Truth”, another one of my favorite tracks from this game. That ending always gives me chills.
Long rant short, I personally think this song is absolutely incredible, and it’s the perfect track for the true final battle. Also, the instruments give off very heavy Strange Journey vibes. I know that both games’ soundtracks were composed by Shoji Meguro, but still. Strange Journey is one of my favorite games of all time, and I absolutely love that Meguro threw some of that game’s music style into a Persona game. Goes to show it’s true that every Persona game’s final battle theme has some Shin Megami Tensei inspiration.
Ever since Atlus announced that they’d be making a sequel to the original Persona Q, which remains one of my favorite 3DS titles to this day, I’ve been hyped from day one. To make a long story short, I got into the original PQ because of the franchise’s predecessor, Shin Megami Tensei. The fact that there existed a first person dungeon-crawler featuring the Persona characters I’ve come to know and love over the past few years made me happy.
(I know Persona 1 was a first persona dungeon-crawler, but I never saw them doing this again.)
And then this beautiful gem of a game was announced.
I watched every trailer, every character overview, and basked in the amazingness of the music. I was ready. Of course, it came out in Japan long before its release here in the US, which is pretty standard for Atlus titles, but then we received unfortunate news that the game didn’t sell all that well in Japan. If I recall correctly, anyway. I’m not necessarily the go-to source for info like this. I just heard about it before localization of the game happened. As a result of the game’s poor sales, they made the decision to just keep the game’s Japanese voice acting in, and, possibly, if enough people in the US show interest in the game, they may consider adding English voice acting later down the road as DLC, like the Japanese voice patch in Persona 5.
As is normal on the internet these days, people got all up in arms about it, but personally, I don’t see the point. Yes, I had come to know and love the English VAs over the years, but English voice acting or not, the game still got an English translation, and I’m beyond thankful for that.
Backstory aside, I got my copy quite early. It just arrived yesterday, despite not actually being released to the public until June 4th, so I figured I’d give a little first impressions treatment to what is my new favorite title on the 3DS.
Honestly, all I can say is that this game is as amazing as I expected and then some. It’s not just another Etrian Odyssey game with the skin of a Persona game. (I’m over-simplifying things, but still.) It doesn’t feel like they just copied the assets from the first game and brought them to this one. Everything feels almost redone from the ground up, save for, perhaps, the engine itself, but that doesn’t matter.
The writing is incredibly solid, like in the rest of the Persona series. Every character remains faithful to their original selves from their respective games. The music, as is to be expected of a Persona game, is absolutely incredible, even more than I expected, to tell you the truth. Prior to the game coming out, I only heard the battle themes and the incredible intro theme, but after having gotten to start the game, it all sounds amazing and fits well. The animation and art style are both absolutely gorgeous. The chibi models look even better than they did in the original Persona Q.
And of course, there’s the gameplay. Honestly, when I was playing it, it gave off heavy old school Shin Megami Tensei vibes to me in the best way. It could also be because it reminds me of Strange Journey, another favorite title of mine on the 3DS, but still. I’m playing the game on Normal mode, and even the tutorial battle showed that, yes, you are playing an Atlus RPG, and yes, you will get your ass handed to you time and time again, and I absolutely love it.
To make a long rant short, I’m glad I pre-ordered this game back in February. It was worth every penny and then some. June 4th is its release date, so if you didn’t get the chance to pre-order it, I highly suggest purchasing it. Let’s show Atlus some love, and show them that the Persona series has a legit fanbase internationally. To end things off, I’d like to share a couple of my favorite songs from the game, so here we go.
It’s certainly been a while since I posted an article here, and I most definitely apologize for that. Sometimes, life gets crazy. I do have more articles planned, I promise you that. I’m just waiting to get a little further in certain games, like Dragon Quest XI since I feel like I’m nearing the end of the game at around 100 hours now.
However, that’s not quite what I wanted to discuss. With it being Mother’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to write about a game I’ve been playing again during breaks at work, and that is one of my favorite games of all time — Mother 2/EarthBound.
At work, I’ve been trying to come up with various methods of keeping my head above water. It’s easy to fall to despair in my line of work and get bombarded and drained by the onslaught of verbal abuse from customers, so during breaks, I’ve been bringing my 3DS to work for the first time in years and playing this amazing game. I already had a file saved in Onett when I booted it up. It was just outside of Giant Step Cave, so I knew exactly what to do.
Playing EarthBound again for the first time in well over a year over the past week or so has brought back many pleasant memories. When I first discovered this gem of a game, I was fourteen years old. I saw a Let’s Play for it done by the YouTuber Chuggaaconroy from back in 2008 and fell in love with the game from that. After I started high school, a friend of mine introduced me to the magic of emulators and being able to play games I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
As soon as I got a Super Nintendo emulator, the first games I got were Final Fantasy VI and EarthBound, the two games I’ve been wanting to try for a while. I’ll never forget how difficult the game seemed at first. I was still technically new to RPGs, so I didn’t do much grinding and exploring to find secret items or pieces of equipment. I don’t think I made it past the Giant Step Cave for a long time. When I eventually did, I still found difficulties in the game for sure, but I think I eventually got stuck in Threed because the enemies kept completely destroying me.
Fast forward to when I’m about sixteen years old or so. At that point, I’d gotten used to EarthBound and its mechanics for two reasons. The first is that I decided to try the game out using cheats, which I later regretted because it made the game crash as soon as Poo joined the party. But then I played it again naturally, and this time, I had found a PDF version of the old school player’s guide. You know, the super cool and creative one. I fell in love with that guide and decided I’d use it to finally try and beat the game myself.
I finally did, and what a masterpiece it was. Since then, I’ve played that game over and over again, and every time I do, I learn something new about the game. It’s incredible. Some of my favorite memories with the game are these days when my brother and I would be home alone a lot. Back then, he had worse anxiety problems than he does now, and he couldn’t sleep in a room alone for a long time, so I’d let him crash in my room while I played EarthBound. He always liked the sound effects and music and thought the general atmosphere was calming, even when I got to Moonside. The sounds would just make him fall asleep. We’re both adults and living our own lives now, but we recently reminisced about that and it reminded us both of how much we love this game.
This game helped me establish my identity as an author, a music composer, and now a game developer. While Persona did a lot of the work, this game helped me through some difficult times, and playing it again here in my new life is a bittersweet experience, but mostly sweet. It’s not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea though. All throughout high school, my co-author often hated on this game, but now that we’re older, he’s far more civil about it. We haven’t discussed it in years, but I reached out to him recently because I wanted to know what he didn’t like about it and why, and he had an interesting answer.
He hadn’t really thought about the details until then, but his judgement was that he felt the game was quirky in its general atmosphere, but not in a way that kept his attention, so he simply didn’t enjoy it. To be fair, he’s not the biggest fan of most turn-based RPGs, with some exceptions like Final Fantasy VII and the Pokémon series, so I can at least understand his point of view.
This is all to say that this was, still is, and will forever be one of my favorite games of all time, right up there among games like Final Fantasy XII, Xenoblade Chronicles, and any Persona game, including Persona 1, but I’ll get more into that game in another article later, because I have some words to say about that one. EarthBound holds a special place in my heart. The game, the music, the characters, it’s all just perfect. It doesn’t feel so much like a game as much as it does an experience, and I think that’s why it resonates with so many people. It’s an adventure, one that brings back a childlike sense of wonder and amazement. If you haven’t played it before, I highly suggest playing it, and if you have played it before, pick it back up again and just play it, even if it’s been forever. Perhaps you’ll find something new in it that you haven’t noticed before.