Tag Archives: square-enix

FGC #581 NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…

Note: This post will involve a lot of spoilers for any game with “NieR” in the title. It’s unfortunately inevitable, and if you’d like to go into the franchise “clean”, I would recommend avoiding this article. Or don’t, and realize why you should play all NieR. Regardless, you’ve been warned.

Silhouettes on the ShadeLet’s settle this right now: which is better, Papa Nier or Brother Nier?

I don’t consider myself to be an expert on much (absolute lie), but I do consider myself to be an expert on the subject of all things NieR(s). I even occasionally remember to capitalize that R at the end! But, to be clear, I am not an expert on NieR because I somehow dedicated myself wholly to the game in an effort to make that one video on Youtube with all the glaring errors…

No, I consider myself an expert on NieR because NieR makes you play the game way too much. You have to complete like half the game four times to get the initial four endings?! And now there’s another one that requires even more playing of the same content? Dammit! I don’t know how your memory works, but I can safely say that after playing the same scenes over and over again, I’m pretty sure I’ve got half the script memorized (or at least everything Kainé says. I’m afraid of her calling me a little bitch for not listening). And now NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… has got me playing it all again! A bunch of times! Bah! I’m going to start waving around a phoenix spear if I have to gather those memory alloys one more time.

But there is a significant difference between the NieR I played in 2010 and the remake released eleven years later: Nier is different. Nier was originally conceived of as a brother to a doting sister, but was remade into a Sad Dad for his visit stateside. This meant that “Papa Nier” became the Nier most familiar to American (and Goggle Bob) audiences, while “Brother Nier” was a wholly Japan-based creature. Now Brother Nier is here in the spotlight, and Papa Nier is seemingly erased from history (again). And that can mean only one thing: it is time for them to fight!

So which Nier fits the world of NieR better? Let’s go head-to-head with Brother and Papa variants!

FGC #560 Einhänder

Get ready to pewHas it ever been good enough to be just, ya know, good enough?

Today’s title is practically a fetish of a bygone epoch. Square (later devoured and digivolved into Square Enix) is a game company that has been around practically from the beginning of gaming. It was the company that brought us Final Fantasy, The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner, and Rad Racer. Today, Square Enix is responsible for Kingdom Hearts, Dragon Quest, Nier, Tomb Raider, Avengers, and Just Cause. But there was a time in the early 21st Century when there was one major complaint about Square (+/- Enix): “they just do Final Fantasy”. And, inevitably, when “they just do Final Fantasy” was brought up, earlier halcyon days of lore were inevitably summoned as well. “Remember when Square used to make more than RPGs? Remember Tobal No. 1? Remember The Bouncer? Remember Einhänder?” And all involved in such a conversation were nodding sagely at the evocation of the “good old days” of experimental Square, and memories of all those old fighting games, shoot ‘em ups, and whatever the hell The Bouncer was supposed to be.

Except it was bullshit. It was always bullshit. Why? Because no greater than seven people in America ever played Einhänder! And don’t even get me started on Tobal No. 2! Admit it, you don’t have a “buddy” that can “score imports”! Oh, you already traded the disc in, that’s why we can’t play it? Stop screwing with me, Donny, I know what you’re up to!

… Er-hem.

KABAMSquare definitely had an “experimental period” around the late 90s. Mind you, it really was not all that different from Square’s earlier output of Final Fantasy games right alongside “weird” games like Live a Live or Front Mission. But by 1997, everyone was looking to Square when it struck it rich with Final Fantasy 7. With Square at the top of the heap, everyone was diving headfirst into their whole catalogue… or at least reading Game Informer’s list of Square releases. “ Einhänder, eh? That looks cool,” was evidently said by an awful lot of people that didn’t actually play Einhänder, because damn, Ein, I’m pretty sure you got outsold by the Final Fantasy 8 demo disc. There’s no shame in that, it was a good demo disc (and it may have been packaged with a game? Who knows?), but it lends further credence to the theory that goddamned no one actually played Einhänder.

And a lack of Einhänder playing is clearly the greatest shame of late 90’s gamers. Is Einhänder good? Listen, bub, it might be the best shoot ‘em up of the Playstation 1 generation by a pretty wide margin! Not only is it just a good shmup in the tradition of Gradius or R-Type, it also utilizes the Playstation graphics engine in ways that are still impressive today. This mix of polygons and whatever the hell makes a PSX disc go is a feast for the eyes, and, if this article had not already firmly established the release window for Einhänder, then it would likely be very easy to trick you, dear reader, into believing this was a game released at the established, tail end of a console’s lifecycle (and not practically at its beginning). And it is not just about the graphics here in Einhänder Land (apparently the moon and/or Earth all along), the gameplay of Einhänder is as good as a shoot ‘em up gets. You dodge. You shoot. You score the occasional powerup through shooting. Opponents have easily-understood patterns, and you are given opportunities to respond and retaliate in kind. Your Einhänder is fragile, but powerups can take a few hits, so you are not always teetering on the abyss like a Vic Viper that forgot to load shields. In short, Einhänder is gorgeous, fair, and simple enough that anyone could learn to be an Einhänding master.

And maybe that is why no one played the damn thing.

WATCH OUTLook, Square didn’t become famous because they created Mario, Sonic, or Mike Haggar. Square gameplay was and is always going to be associated with one major thing: dudes with swords using those swords in complicated ways. Final Fantasy was never a game that stood by the standard “A is jump” mantra of many NES titles, it was a game where you had to cycle through three different menus just to get your little red dude to swing his sword at anything more substantial than thin air. From there, not only did the method to make your wee swordsman to swing said sword get more complicated (what the hell is a “Runic”!?) but the worlds surrounding our fantasy armies became significantly more complicated, too. Where once we just kind of accepted that there might be a space station still floating around the relics of a lost civilization, now we had to have fictions that told long, intricate stories about these capital-A “Ancients” and how modern scientists were still trying to mate them with Pokémon for some reason. Where once your hero didn’t have a name, now not only did they have names, families, and complicated motivations, they also had identity crises wherein they debated the true nature of being loved. By the time Square got around to smooshing all its most popular swords guys against Mickey Mouse, the “default” story that had to be told was expected to contain a tale of identity theft, teenage possession, and at least thirteen dudes in cloaks that will probably reveal their true motives in approximately fifteen years. Square makes complicated games. Square seems to revel in making complicated games.

Almost the endAnd, don’t worry, Einhänder contains a plot that could reasonably be described as complicated for its time. While this is not on the same echelon as Chrono Trigger and other contemporaries pushing the boundaries of what could be in a videogame story, this is still nowhere near “princess captured, rescue princess”. Your Einhänder is piloted by an anonymous pilot that thinks they’re just doing some basic military maneuvers for the glory of their planet/celestial body/whatever, but, in a shocking turn of events, it turns out that this soldier (and all soldiers like them) is a lot closer to being on a suicide mission than anything that could ever be survivable. And that’s bad, apparently! In the end, your unknown Einhänder pilot learns the truth, rebels in pretty straightforward ways, and ends all war forever or something through sheer survivability, and we all learn a valuable lesson about reading the fine print on any potentially earned medals.

But, while Einhänder has what might be considered a complicated plot for a shoot ‘em up (the Space Invaders Ultimania guide is thinner than a dehydrated needlefish) it also has a plot that is barely there. There are cutscenes in Einhänder, and they’re almost exclusively featuring whatever giant robot or missile you’re expected to shoot next. Other than that? Any and all explanations for what the hell is happening are constrained to the opening and ending. And that’s brilliant! We don’t need another game that does not understand how some genres are completely incompatible with “now stop playing and watch a movie”. Einhänder is a white-knuckle shoot ‘em up wherein there should not be a second where you feel safe to put the controller down. It even suits the underlying plot! You are in mortal danger at all times! Sitting around and reading a data entry on your local corrupt government is only going to detract from the Einhänder experience!

… Except that means that you are probably going to miss the semi-intricate plot as a result. That means that this shoot ‘em up is going to come off as… just another shoot ‘em up.

Yo!And is that good enough? This is the best shoot ‘em up of a console generation from a time when its parent company could have greenlit practically anything (“You want a Mana game that drops all previous gameplay conceits and can barely be described using human language? Legend of Mana it is!”), and, yet, we live in a world without an Einhänder 2(: Revenge of the Moon). By whatever rubric Square had for its late 90s releases, Einhänder did not succeed enough to merit further promotion or even a spiritual sequel. To this day, the best Einhänder can accomplish is starring in a mini game or two across different Square Enix properties. Einhänder, in the absence of the “complicated”, thorny nature of its brothers of the era became slippery, and slid right out of the gaming consciousness. If you played Einhänder in the 90’s, I salute you, but it is likely only because you are naturally attracted to weird German robots, and not because someone recommended it to you. The byzantine games of the era sucked up all the oxygen surrounding Square titles, and Einhänder wound up occupying that same “I heard about ‘em before they were cool” imaginary headspace. Nobody listened to Smash Mouth’s Fush Yu Mang, and nobody bought Einhänder. It was a good game, but that’s all it could ever be. Ain’t no cosplay Sephiroths mingling with giant robot monkey boss cosplayers in 2001 or 2021.

Einhänder, you were amazing, and great at what you did. But all you did was what you did, and it looks like that wasn’t enough.

FGC #560 Einhänder

  • System: Playstation 1. Could be available on the Playstation 3, if, like, you lived in Japan.
  • Number of players: This is a game that has made “one” part of its identity.
  • There's a secret moveFavorite Ship: Screw the unlockable bonus ships, I’ll take the simplicity of the Einhänder MK III any day. I like my one-handed spaceships like I like my coffee: straight, to the point, and capable of demolishing entire armies.
  • Favorite Powerup: I am easily influenced by box art, so I love me some laser swords. There is nothing I enjoy more than getting some weird ass weapon in a shoot ‘em up, and then being rewarded for standing inordinately close to a monster spewing bullets while my sword apparently hacks away while wholly motionless. It is a beautiful showcase of swordsmanship.
  • What’s in a name: Breaking it down, “händer” translates roughly to “handed” in English, while “Ein” means “that dog from Cowboy Bebop”. So an appropriate localization of Einhänder would be “a game about that really smart puppy that now has hands”. I think it is supposed to be about the shape of the ship.
  • Difficulty Modes: In addition to the usual easy/medium/hard/dark souls difficulty modes available in Einhänder, the Japanese version also includes an “unlimited mode” that grants infinite lives at the expense of not being able to score points. And they removed it for the American release! That’s the best feature available to a shoot ‘em up, and they took it out! Those bastards!
  • Lotta pewsDid you know? There was a strategy guide for Einhänder published in Japan. I realize this was the heyday of guide books, but I would never consider needing one for a shoot ‘em up. I’m assuming it was just a few maps, some random lore/art, and every other page simply stating “practice until your thumbs fall off”. That’s a good strategy.
  • Would I play again: Put it on Switch, you monsters! It’s all I’ve ever wanted! Or at least I will claim that is true for the remainder of this article!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Mega Man Network Transmission for the Nintendo Gamecube! It’s time to jack in to the net, Lan! Please look forward to it!

ROBO MONKEY

World of Final Fantasy Part 03

Chapter 7: He’s Not Family
Initial Stream: 9/29/20



1:00 – I tried to get the “futzing around in menus” out of the way before the stream started, but I also wanted to capture the evolution transfarring of BURDIEE… but it was a lot more underwhelming than I expected. And then I proceed to spend ten minutes futzing around in other menus. Dammit!

8:25 – Okay! Actually back at Soronia! This area is loosely based on a town besieged by conflict in Final Fantasy 3, so let’s discuss why maybe Final Fantasy 3 sucked. It has something to do with swamps…

14:00 – Betrayal! A villain makes an unexpected appearance (in front of a painting of Kain Highwind?), but let’s just talk about Space Adventure Cobra instead.

20:00 – The Knight in the Golden Mask has a secret identity. Is he Cloud? Zoneseek? The heroes’ father? Everybody guesses it’s that last one.

25:00 – And the chapter ends abruptly after brainstorming the best way to go back in time and destroy Pitfall.

What actually happened in the plot: This was supposed to be a simple meeting with Refia’s uncle, the thane. However, the city of Soronia has recently fallen under the thrall of the Bahamutian Army (Empire?), and things aren’t great for anybody. Worst of all, the thane has been replaced with a seemingly immortal Bahamutian soldier, and he’s backed up by the mysterious Knight in the Golden Mask. Our party barely survives the encounter, but they are rescued by Sherlotta, who has the ability to transform into a kitty cat that can shoot fire. Sherlotta imparts a magical monocle on the party that reveals that all conquered cities are literally shackled in place by (normally) invisible chains. With Soronia a bust, Refia stays with Sherlotta, and the twins venture forth to find a boat to reach other shores.

Chapter 8: This World Brought to You by the Letter Arrr
Initial Stream: 9/29/20



1:00 – This chapter is mostly dungeon, so we kick it off by discussing How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. This was apparently made into a movie fifteen years ago! Maybe you should watch that!

4:00 – This dungeon is all dire docks, and cannons launching our party across rising waters seems to be the main gimmick of the area. Cannon travel sure seems popular in a number of videogames, eh?

8:00 – Dungeons are great for discussing tangentially related nonsense. We encounter a mimic chest, so let’s look to Gogo, the best mimic of all. Want to segue into Chrono Trigger from there? Sure!

15:00 – There is some confusion over Mini Flan capturing. At this point, I’m confident in calling this a flaw in World of Final Fantasy: you’re often given precise instructions on how to capture a mirage (like “do physical damage”), but sometimes that doesn’t activate immediately, and you’re left scrambling to a FAQ to determine whether there is some additional condition, or if you’re doing something wrong. Or you send BEAT on a quixotic quest for that info. You know, whatever works for you.

24:00 – Funkos in flight! Maybe these creatures are closer to keychain charms…

28:00 – Star Ocean: The Second Story is apparently a lot more interesting than I ever expected, as fanboymaster explains its counterfeiting system here. Also, reading books written by your friends, which I’m going to claim takes us back to the book discussion at the top of the chapter.

36:00 – After a discussion of Final Fantasy 7’s Godzillas and Wutai, it’s time for moogle pirates to attack. They’re Kupirates. I annihilate their adorableness.

39:00 – Syldra and Faris make us all happy… until it turns out to be a scripted battle. And BEAT is never happy, so I guess this was a wash.

43:00 – Faris inevitably aligns with our heroes as we discuss Playonline and the aborted plans of the Final Fantasy franchise.

What actually happened in the plot: Reynn and Lann tried to steal a boat from pirates, but Faris the pirate fought back with a gigantic sea monster. Luckily (kinda), the fake thane from the last chapter followed us, and, since this revealed the twins to be enemies of the Bahamutian Army, Faris turned her considerable power toward obliterating the real monster. After that general was swabbed off the poop deck, Faris (or at least one of her moogles) provided an additional segment of the prophecy that claims the heroes have to fetch four keys and ascend to the heavens. We’re off to a “valley of fire” to find key numero uno!

Chapter 9: Red Turtle Rafting
Initial Stream: 9/29/20



1:20 – Quistis?! Why are you here?

4:45 – We take a quick break to check in on the “home dimension” and see how those side stories with Final Fantasy heroes work. They’re apparently moderately interesting. Tales of Symphonia narrative bullshit is noted.

14:00 – Talkin’ ‘bout Die Hard Arcade while upgrading monsters. During this downtime, please enjoy this article I slapped together a few years back on Dynamite Cop.

17:00 – Back to the real plot, so let’s talk about Ms. Marvel and the Avengers.

20:00 – Anime out of nowhere! For the first time since Chapter 1, we get a brief cutscene that is fully animated. While that is happening, we contemplate whether either of these characters actually have a personality. They’re at least distinct from each other…

25:00 – We save a wee turtle in honor of our hero, Italian Elon Musk.

28:00 – Rikku makes the scene in her Final Fantasy 10-2 treasure/sphere hunter incarnation. After World of Final Fantasy started off with Warrior of Light, Princess Sarah, a Crystal Chronicles cat, and a Final Fantasy 3 kinda-character, we’re now going fast and furious with the recognizable cameos. And we will have a Final Fantasy 7 heroine before the end of the next chapter! Which is coming soon!

What actually happened in the plot: Quistis provides a submarine (compliments of the Final Fantasy 8 demo disc)… which we crash, because apparently this world is a series of loosely connected floating islands. Barring the ability to do literally anything else, we save a little turtle, who reveals itself to be the child of a great big turtle. Said giant turtle offers us a ride, and we’re off to drier land.

Editor’s note: the following part is written by esteemed streamer of World of Final Fantasy, BEAT

Chapter 10: MORE LIKE FUCKO POPS AM I RITE?!?!?!
Initial Stream: 9/29/20



WAIT A SECOND YOU’RE NOT GOGGLEBOB!

0:00 – OH SHIT IT’S BEAT. That’s right dorks, I’m writing up this video! I’ve retained literally zero knowledge of this game’s plot or mechanics, and only barely paid attention to this steam while I was guesting on it. Call the cops I don’t give a fuck.

1:20 – In my infinite wisdom, I immediately derail the conversation into a discussion on how Final Fantasy Ecks Too was the sexy one, and how Final Fantasy’s attempt to appeal to teenage boys has tragically resulted in this game trying to make those horrible little funko pop people HOTTT. Fanboy is less than pleased.

05:00 – I try to recall a dumb gag from 8-bit theater. Fortunately my internet is actively trying to kill itself, so you’re all spared my evil… until a minute later when I share it anyway. We then pontificate on the cultural impact of sprite comics the joy of Gamer Dilbert, and the terrible tragedy of regular Dilbert.

06:10 – The party makes it a desolate stone wasteland, a nightmarish valley of razor sharp spires jutting out of the earth and into an uncaring grey sky. Nobody on the call seems to notice.

14:30 – Fun fact, we streamed this on the night of the first Presidential debate! That way, none of us had to watch the debate! Fuck Trump. It’ll be so cool when he dies.

21:30 – Fanboy gives us all a history of Square Electronic Arts, a very good business partnership, that lasted a very long time and created many excellent products.

29:00 – After approximately 11 million years of random battles, we finally reach what I assume is the area’s boss, Cerberus! It doesn’t look like a dog, and two of it’s three heads just float in the air. It’s not even the size of a house! This Cerberus sucks, you guys. Eventually Gogglebob captures it in a pokeball, and names it Vinnie- WAIT!

FUCKING WAIT!

ONE OF VINNIE PAZ’S STUPID NICKNAMES IS "BIG LOUIE DOGS!"

CERBERUS IS (KIND OF) A DOG!

IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!!

35:30 – The Boss is beaten, but we’re still in dumb rocky land what the shit.

SEPHIROTH!37:00 – Gogglebob’s anime siblings now have the ability to summon Sephiroth, who summons meteor and then does the whole walk into the fire thing. It’s awful. It rules. I hate it. I love it.

40:00 – Hey, remember Advent Children? No? Me neither.

44:15 – I don’t know why Gogglebob named this horrible deformed dragon thing "104." And you know what? I’m at peace with it.

45:10 – Oh okay NOW we’re at the boss. I guess Cerberus was just a midboss or whatever. Everybody is a dick about how anime boy tastes.

47:45 – Oh shit it’s cowboy Tifa. Hi cowboy Tifa. I hate the funko pop outfit version of her sexy cowgirl Halloween costume almost as much as I hate her voice.

51:20 – Tiny Midgar is in sight! It’s adorably hellish, and contrasts nicely with the adorable little town right next to it, which is also surrounded by lava pits for some reason.

53:50 – A random NPC mentions Cactuars, which is the ONLY THING any of us care about seeing.

55:00 – We make it to tiny Midgar Nibelheim. It’s Nibelheim now. You thought it was Midgar, but it’s Nibelheim. Tifa’s here. I still hate her stupid outfit. STREAM OVER!

What actually happened in the plot: the gang rode a giant fucking turtle… somewhere. They go into a giant stone hellhole, where they fight a dog and then a dragon. Funko Pop Tifa shows up out of nowhere, and guides the teens out of the boring rock quarry. She guides the Anime teens the town of Agarthir, which is right next to the futuristic dystopia of Midgard, which is actually Niblehiem for some reason. Tifa’s there I guess. Whatever.

Next time on World of Final Fantasy: Gonna take you for a Rydia.

FGC #526 Final Fantasy 7 Remake

This article contains hella spoilers for Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and a Thornton Wilder play. It happens. If you wish to experience FF7R untainted by foreknowledge, you have been warned. Now back to that play…

Let's talk about playsIn 1938, Thornton Wilder released Our Town. For anyone that has not seen or read the play, it is a deliberately simple production that showcases three different stages in the lives of the residents of Grover’s Corners. It begins with a focus on “daily life”, like children going to school and milk being delivered, proceeds to “love & marriage” with a joyous and stressful wedding day, and finally ends with “death and eternity”, a supernatural visit with the spirits literally haunting the local cemetery. The whole while, the play is hosted by the Stage Manager, a character that bleats his dialogue against the fourth wall. This “manager” separates their role between being a character in Grover’s Corners, narrator, and a congenial guy (or lady) that addresses questions from the audience. The Stage Manager and the general tone of the whole production was a result of Wilder acknowledging that he didn’t like the direction “the theater” was taking at the time, and Our Town was intended to drop intricate sets and impersonal narratives for a simple setup and direct interaction with the audience. Possibly because of this, Our Town has been popular since its premiere; however, Wilder often said the play was rarely performed correctly, as, in his own words, it “should be performed without sentimentality or ponderousness–simply, dryly, and sincerely.” Good luck with that, Thorn, as the final act of Our Town contains one of the most beautiful and insightful exchanges ever directly lifted by Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch:

“Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”

“No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”

If you’re curious about the context of such a statement: Emily, one of the stars of Our Town that has been showcased since her childhood days, has died during childbirth. She meets the other ghosts of the graveyard, and learns that, while she is unable to join the skeleton army, she can re-experience any moment from her past. She is warned not to try it, but she chooses to live out a mundane memory from her 12th birthday. Despite the fact that this is a typical, fairly boring day (children’s birthday parties in the early 20th Century rarely included enough N64 games to make them worthwhile), Emily can barely bear the weight of experiencing a time when her family was content, happy, and, most importantly, alive. Emily knows what happens to the people close to her 12 year old self, and she knows the hardships and death that await herself and others. Items as humble as sizzling bacon or a kiss from her mother are things Emily will never experience ever again, so this living memory of happier times is agonizing. Do people realize how good they have it when they have it? How every little piece of life is precious, and even something as routine as seeing a family member for breakfast can be lost in an instant? No. Of course not. The Saints and poets sometimes think about such, but you’re here reading a videogame essay, and gradually getting distracted by the fact that I mentioned bacon. Get a goddamn snack and then think about how good you have it, you frivolous living person.

So, after explaining one of the most important plays of the last century for 500 words, I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve played Final Fantasy 7. You know the drill, right?