Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: A Game That Will Rock Your Chocobo’s Socks
Though the era of Rock Band, Guitar Hero and the like may have petered out, Square Enix has not tired of milking the Final Fantasy franchise with spin-offs. Theatrythm Final Fantasy is a great, nostalgic addition to the hardcore Final Fantasy fan’s collection, and anyone familiar with games like Rhythm Fever and Elite Beat Agents will get the hang of the similarly-styled gameplay quickly.
On the surface, the game looks kiddie, but in an Edward Gorey way: The characters look like a coloring-book interpretation of Limbo’s characters, stripping them of all their original visual appeal and their individuality. This chibi (albeit creepy) graphics ensure that you are always aware this is a spin-off game. But there’s a simple brilliance to Theatrhythm. The player is given the opportunity to choose a party of four from the main characters of Final Fantasy I through XIII (including unlockable characters), and the party is taken through each game’s soundtrack. (Final Fantasy X-2, XIII-2, and XIV are not included in the game.)
Xenoblade Chronicles (Second Impressions)
At level 16, my characters were journeying through a giant field, slaying monsters and Mechon (members of a robotic enemy army) along the way, when I swerved just out of sight of a troll-like thing that was three or more times my level. Staring at the very red enemy info floating above its head (read = will murder your face), I ran in fear, murmuring “oh-no-oh-no-oh-no” until it was out of sight—only to collide with more Mechon, who called yet more Mechon to aid them. Soon, the three of us were fighting six, maybe seven at once (and only the main character’s sword—the Monado—can damage them unless he activates a special ability that allows regular weapons to do harm as well). My fear continued, as we three fought for our lives: I was forced to take the time to revive several characters (and at one point, they revived me), but we eventually won out. After resting, I decided to take a path over a grassy bridge so I could avoid more Mechon, but ended up walking just feet above a trio of level 72 lizard warrior things. Their information bubbles indicated that they’ll attack on sight and in groups, so I ran right back around, murmuring “ohhhhhh shiiii——” until I came upon a giant armadillo-looking thing. I thought I remembered needing to kill one more for a quest, so I attacked, and after a struggle, it knocked us all out.
What I’m Gaming: Guild Wars & Xenoblade Chronicles
So I’m about 9 hours into Guild Wars (PC) and 4 hours into Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii), and I’m seeing some similarities. Both games give you an expansive, explorable world: If you can see it, you can go to it. This is surprising in Xenoblade Chronicles because it’s a JRPG, not an MMO—the JRPG standard is to show a cohesive world but to block off some places with mountains or crates, etc. (I assume this is so there is less to program and the game can be released a little sooner with a little less testing). Look at expansive RPGs like Fallout 3/Fallout: Las Vegas or Skyrim: There are so many places to go and so many things you can do in those places that bug patches have to be constantly released—you simply can’t test EVERYTHING in a game that huge. Xenoblade Chronicles must have been a little easier since it’s working with a smaller set of variables. (In short: I’ve been able to go wherever I wanted (as long as higher level monsters don’t lurk there) and haven’t come across any bugs yet in either Guild Wars or Xenoblade Chronicles. This is a feat these days. Then again, the Wii does not allow for patches, so the game had to be right the first time around, and Guild Wars has been out and patched for several years.)