Final Fantasy XV: The Latest Reinvention

As we discussed last time, the Final Fantasy series is one that has rarely stood still or grown complacent.

Each new installment has represented a reinvention of the basic formula to one degree or another, with some offering a more radical new take than others.

Latest installment Final Fantasy XV is arguably the most significant and noticeable reinvention of the series since abandoned the Active Time Battle mechanic the series had used between its fourth and ninth installments. And it’s an effective new approach that offers a blend of spectacular real-time action and the strategy of more traditional, conventional role-playing games.

Let’s delve into Final Fantasy XV’s battle mechanics in depth.

Continue reading Final Fantasy XV: The Latest Reinvention

Final Fantasy XV: A Series of Constant Reinvention

“If it’s not new, it’s not Final Fantasy.”

According to World of Final Fantasy director Hiroki Chiba, speaking with Gamer Escape earlier this year, this is the attitude that Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi strove to work by. And it’s a creed that the various teams around Square Enix responsible for the continued development of the brand have maintained to this day, right up to latest release Final Fantasy XV.

The result is one of gaming’s longest running, most successful series that has managed to move with the times across six generations of console hardware and changing gaming trends, plus jumps to handheld and mobile devices. Your feelings about individual installments may vary, but it’s impossible to accuse Final Fantasy of stagnation at any point in its long history.

Let’s delve into the history of the series and see just how it’s developed over time.

Continue reading Final Fantasy XV: A Series of Constant Reinvention

Fairy Fencer F ADF: Sights and Sounds

Fairy Fencer F and its Advent Dark Force counterpart represent an interesting melting pot of influences.

We’ve already talked about how the gameplay includes influences from Compile Heart’s own Neptunia series, and how the narrative includes influences from classic JRPGs of yore, but Fairy Fencer F’s diverse background is perhaps most apparent when it comes to its audio-visual aesthetic.

Featuring concept art by Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame, character designs by Tsunako of Neptunia fame and contributions to the soundtrack from longtime Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and his band Earthbound Papas, Fairy Fencer F certainly has some impressively heavyweight talent behind it.

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Fairy Fencer F ADF: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

Compile Heart games, as we’ve previously discussed, don’t exactly follow the mould of the stereotypical JRPG. However, this doesn’t stop them from having a strong sense of worldbuilding.

You may not be able to freely wander the whole world in a Compile Heart game as you can do in a more open-world adventure, but physically representing something isn’t the only way to give the player a feeling of time and place. You can also do it through the writing.

And this is exactly how Compile Heart builds its worlds, both in its popular Neptunia series and in its outlier titles such as Omega Quintet and Fairy Fencer F. The latter, in particular, demonstrates that the company is more than capable of building a convincing world with an interesting mythology using relatively minimal resources.

Continue reading Fairy Fencer F ADF: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

Root Letter: Eleven Letters, Eight People, One Truth

Kadokawa Games’ Root Letter, first in their new Kadokawa Games Mystery series, quietly snuck out onto the market at the end of October, just four months after its Japanese release.

The proposed series is set to be a collection of visual novel-cum-adventure game hybrids for PlayStation platforms that feature real-world locations, artwork from Love Plus character designer Mino Taro and a cast of fictional actresses who will play different roles in each game. The plan, presumably, is to create a series of adventures that, while distinct in their own right in terms of story, will have numerous thematic and stylistic similarities throughout that make them feel like “part of a set”.

So far, all we have to judge the series on is its inaugural installment Root Letter, but fortunately it’s a very strong start indeed, eminently worthy of your time if you’ve ever enjoyed the Ace Attorney or Danganronpa games.

Continue reading Root Letter: Eleven Letters, Eight People, One Truth

Negligee: Pretty Girls in Sexy Pants

With a title like “Negligee”, you probably think you know what you’re getting — and in this case, you’d probably be right. Mostly.

Negligee is a short visual novel from the UK-based (but heavily Japan-inspired) developer Dharker Studio, whose previous work has included Beach Bounce, Summer Fling and Club Life, among others. To date, the team has put out works encompassing both “slice of life” romance stories and more fantastic, outlandish tales incorporating magic and sci-fi. Negligee falls very much into the former category by being about as down-to-earth as you can get.

But is it just an excuse to depict its heroines in a variety of revealing lingerie, or is there something more to it? Read on, and let’s take a closer look.

Continue reading Negligee: Pretty Girls in Sexy Pants

Fairy Fencer F ADF: Anatomy of an RPG

Compile Heart RPGs have a very clear sense of identity; they’re instantly recognisable.

Everything from their overall aesthetic to the structure of the game contributes to this distinctive identity, and it’s a formula that’s been working for them for a number of years now. Unsurprisingly, Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is no exception to this rule, albeit with a few twists here and there to make it distinct from the company’s flagship Neptunia series.

Today we’re going to look at just how Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force works as a game, and how it differs from what people might regard as more “conventional” role-playing games.

Continue reading Fairy Fencer F ADF: Anatomy of an RPG

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