Unpopular Opinion – We Don’t Need Final Fantasy VII HD

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Fans have been clamoring for an HD remake of Final Fantasy VII ever since an HD tech demo impressed gamers several years ago at E3. Those desires have been refueled by the re-release of the PC edition that’s heading to the PlayStation 4. Here’s the thing, though; we really don’t need it.

Would it be cool to revisit Midgar with modern visuals? Sure. Personally, I’d much rather see re-releases of Final Fantasy IV and VI with their original visual style, but I’m weird.

Do you know what else would be cool, though? Getting to play Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 as soon as humanly possible.

It’s no secret that development times at Square Enix are, well, lengthy. Final Fantasy XV was originally announced as Final Fantasy XII Versus back in 2006. We’re coming up on nine years since that announcement with no release date in sight. Sure, we saw that impressive trailer at E3 in 2013. Yes, there was the Tokyo Game Show trailer/reality show bromance video from this year. And the biggest takeaway from both trailers is the fact that we won’t play in 2015. We’re not going to play an all-new Final Fantasy game until 2016… at the earliest.

And don’t even get me started on Kingdom Hearts III’s release date. That thing looks like it’s years away.

Unpopular Opinion - We Don't Need Final Fantasy VII HD

Don’t worry, though. There are plenty of upcoming Final Fantasy releases! There’s the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster coming next year for PlayStation 4. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is also coming next year. We’ve seen several Final Fantasy XIII-related spin-offs in the past two years, and the handheld/PC re-releases are practically never ending. Sufficed to say, we’re already suffering from an overdose of re-releases and remasters within the Final Fantasy franchise.

So why do we want more of it?

Yes, Final Fantasy VII is regarded by many as one of the greatest games of all time. Yes, it would be super cool to see updated visuals, but those would take a lot of time to develop. Why don’t we, you know, let Square make new games and new experiences to fall in love with.

If you really want to experience Final Fantasy VII again, it’s $11.99 on Steam and there’s a Holiday Sale coming up. There you go. You can relive the memories without taking away Square Enix’s attention from new games.

Thank You For Delaying The Witcher 3, CD Projekt RED

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If I had a nickel for every game that was released before its time, I’d probably be able to buy one of those games.

Phrases like “The features we promised will become available after launch via patch”, “We’ll be sure to fix those bugs”, and “We’re working around the clock to fix the issues that developed after release” have become all too common.

Thankfully, the folks at CD Projekt RED, the developer behind The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, aren’t interested in using any of these excuses. Yes, it really sucks that the game has been delayed another 12 weeks, but look at it this way: do you want a game that’s followed by twelve weeks of bug fixes or a game that takes an additional twelve weeks of development time?

I don’t know about you, but I prefer the latter.

Here’s an excerpt from Projekt RED’s website:

“We owe you an apology. We set the release date too hastily. It’s a hard lesson, one to take to heart for the future. We know what we want to do to make Wild Hunt one of the best RPGs you will ever play. And we continue to work hard to achieve just that. So, we apologize and ask for your trust.”

The words of Shigeru Miyamoto ring truer and truer each and every day: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”

No matter how enjoyable games such as Assassin’s Creed UnityHalo: The Master Chief Collection, and Driveclub may be, the stigma of their poor launches may never be forgotten. It’s better to ensure said stigmas never occur to begin with. That’s something that appears to be going on with The Witcher 3.

For that, I thank you, CD Projekt RED.

The One-Sentence Reaction: Final Fantasy VII On PlayStation 4

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You all though it was coming. Square Enix took the stage during the PlayStation Experience this past weekend and a familiar logo appeared: Final Fantasy VII.

This was it. The HD remake you’ve all been waiting for. Here it comes…

…and it’s just the PC re-release ported onto the PlayStation 4. Cries of joy were quickly replaced with screams of frustration. Ever since Square teased an HD tech-demo during the PlayStation 3 reveal, there’s been one thing on the mind of gamers: an HD release of Final Fantasy VII. There’s just one problem with that, though. It’d take a lot of time and money to develop that.

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Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI are better if you ask me, anyway.

Reminder: Video Game Awards Shows Are Dumb

Reminder: The Video Game Awards Show Thingy Is DumbRemember that time the VGAs, or whatever they’re called now, completely ignored one of the best games of 2012?

I sure hope that they found the time to include some of the quality December releases we’ve seen, like the start of two new stories from Telltale Games, the console debut of Threes, Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker on the Wii U, and several other hidden gems that could come out of nowhere to captivate gamers before the year’s over. This is is my biggest issue with the “official” video game awards ceremony, which airs live on the internet: it takes place before the year ends, when plenty of great games have yet to be released.

Sure, Telltale is nominated for Best Developer, but presumably, that’s due to The Walking Dead and A Wolf Among Us. Don’t forget, they released four games this calendar year. Four. Not bad for a small company.

That’s besides the point, though. I’m just not sure many people take “Game of the Year” awards seriously. Every year, we see a bounty of quality video games that are deserving of such a title. Just because my favorite game of 2014 is different from yours doesn’t make it better.

The other thing to consider is that the Spike VGX Extravaganza, or whatever it’s called now, is just a gigantic commercial for the industry. On the surface, this isn’t a bad thing. Expos such as PAX and E3 are also big advertisements for the industry, featuring new announcements, trailers, and demonstrations.

But the Game Awards Show, or whatever it’s called now, doesn’t have demonstrations. It consists of nothing but trailers and announcements, probably filled with pre-order bonuses. Assassin’s Creed Victory leaked earlier this week; I wouldn’t be shocked to see it officially debut during the show despite the fact that Assassin’s Creed Unity is an incomplete mess of a game. There’s even a category for the most anticipated game of 2015, even though there are plenty of 2015 titles we haven’t heard about yet.

The hype train is getting ready to leave the station tonight. Maybe someone should dismantle the tracks.

Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire Can’t Hide the Original’s Issues

Pokémon X and Y were incredibly enjoyable titles that the franchise desperately needed. The combination of a new world, new Pokémon, new cities, and a strange desire to customize clothing all helped to create an experience that was difficult to put down. Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, however, doesn’t elicit the same feelings.

Yes, it’s nice to see the continued trend of older versions being re-released on new hardware with modern features, but there’s a problem with Ruby and Sapphire: they just weren’t good games to begin with.

“Boredom” and “sadness” are the words that I would probably use to describe the opening moments of the game. Heart Gold and Soul Silver were a joy to revisit due nostalgic memories, but Ruby and Sapphire may have been better left forgotten. Plus, man, just look at the original style of our hero:

Pokemon Omega Ruby Alpha Sapphire Can't Hide The Original's Issues

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And look at our hero now:

pokehairThat hair looked so much better in 2D. Vomitrocious.

The slow start further proves how badly the franchise needed to be updated for modern times. While I still enjoy Heart Gold and Soul Silver, they drag on and on during the opening scenes. The same is true with Alpha Omega and Ruby Sapphire, despite the fact that the game does its best to speed things up early. It’s like when person puts on cologne instead of actually taking a shower. You get a mish-mash of body odor and cologne combining to make a stench that’s still foul despite the fact that you can’t quite walk away from it.

Not that I think Pokémon smells like body order. It’s one of my favorite franchises, but Alpha Ruby and Omega Sapphire haven’t done enough to remove their third-generation stench.

Pure Pool: The GeekParty Review

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Pure Pool brings back nostalgic memories and has a incredibly weird sound track, but it’s perfect for the Xbox One.

Ultimately, though, what you see with Pure Pool is what you get: pool: no thrills, no bells and whistles. For better or worse, this is a game for those who just want to play pool, which is handy for people like myself who suck at the real thing. If you’re expecting anything more, you’re going to come away disappointed.

But why would you expect anything else? After all, the game is called “Pure Pool.”

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Pure Pool Is Perfect For The Xbox One

Pure Pool’s Soundtrack Makes Me Wonder If They Have Ever Watched Me Play Pool

We live in an age where buying a physical copy of your favorite video game typically means downloading a massive day-one patch. The days of buying a disc from your local store and immediately playing the game are gone… probably for good.

Thankfully, the Xbox One allows players to switch between apps, meaning we’re not stuck looking at an installation screen until we keel over from boredom. The ability to squeeze in a game while waiting for a triple-A title is something I’ve come to enjoy over the holiday season. Sure, there are plenty of other downloadable games available on Xbox Live, but with Pure Pool, I’m not investing much into the matches. If I want to leave, I can. No need to save. No cutscene to wait for. No event to wrap up. I just have to say “Xbox, go to that new game I installed.”

Plus, if you find out that you can’t get into any multiplayer matches because matchmaking is still borked, a simple “Xbox, go to Pure Pool” will calm things down.

The game is characterized by the kind of pick-up-and-play philosophy that’s absent from modern gaming. It reminds me that games don’t always need to be lengthy, in-depth adventures. Sometimes they’re just between-adventure time killers, and those are fun too.

Apparently, Sony Computer Entertainment America Has Never Heard of Beta Tests

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Destiny had multiple Alpha and Beta tests. World of Warcraft‘s expansions always have lengthy testing cycles. Even SimCity had a stress test, though it didn’t do EA’s servers much good. Do you know what game didn’t have any kind of test to simulate post-launch stress? Driveclub.

Talking with IGN, Shawn Layden, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, had the following to say regarding Driveclub‘s development:

In the development cycle, we try to do all things. In the development cycle, we try to test against every possibility. We have a [Quality Assurance] team, we have a QA plan. You do a beta test, you scope against that. But now, in a connected world, you can’t effectively test in your house or in your beta group what it means to have 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 users hit your service. And the guys [at the studio] are struggling with that. It’s throwing up things they had not anticipated.

If its impossible to “effectively test” a game with 200,000 users, why are so many other developers doing it? It’s called a stress test. You invite a huge number of people into the beta, say “hey we’d really like if you all hit the service at the same time,” and watch the game break.

Recently Evolve had an alpha test. It went, well, pretty poorly. But that’s perfectly okay because it’s an alpha test. Developer Turtle Rock now knows what to needs to be fixed before next year’s release. If only they did the same with Driveclub, they could go back and fix the game’s connectivity issues.

Maybe they could also fix the gameplay.

We Will Never Have a Smooth Online Launch Again

Diablo III halloweenDriveclubDiablo IIIThe Elder Scrolls OnlineSimCityHalo: The Master Chief Collection. What do these games all have in common? Poor online launches.

Some have been worse than others, but the simple fact remains that they — as well as countless others — have had troubles launching their online services. It’s a bit ironic, considering that we’re making more and more technological advances each and every day. Why is it that we can accomplish the unthinkable, but we can’t get a game’s online service to run smoothly during launch?

Because it’s impossible.

In most cases, a game will be its busiest at launch. Everybody wants to get in on the action when it’s fresh and see what all the buzz is about. Servers are therefore overloaded, with little to no preparation. Sure, you can have betas and stress tests, but nothing can ever compare to the real deal. For a game’s hardware, it seems that the best way to find out if its got the goods to make it is trial under fire. The problem, though, is that a fire is always strongest when it first gets going. Over time, it will wear down and weaken.

The same can be said about a player base. Nothing will ever match the stress servers experience on launch night. So while it’s easy to say “hey, let’s just put up as many servers as we can and call it a day,” what are you going to do with those extra servers when you don’t need them?

Once someone finds a reasonable answer to that question, our problems may be solved. Until then, we’re going to have to be patient with our games.

Pure Pool’s Soundtrack Needs More Air Guitar

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I am not good at pool. That’s okay, though. I like to pretend.

I also like to pretend that my cue stick is a guitar. It eases the pain of defeat.

While my skills in Pure Pool may outweigh my real-life skills pool, my air guitar dreams will never come to pass. The game’s soundtrack doesn’t exactly lend itself to my air guitar antics. Instead of hanging out in a pool hall, the game’s locale is an upscale smooth jazz bar.

Now I don’t know about you, but this isn’t exactly my kind of place. I like singing along to the songs I pick on the jukebox, and dancing as if I’m in a concert pit. Sure, I could see myself softly snapping my fingers after making a clutch shot, but the setting offered by Pure Pool just seems…off.

Especially since my table felt is a cosmic background.

If I could use custom soundtracks, this wouldn’t even be an issue. But that’s a story for another day.