Week in Review

Kind of a slow week, really.  The San Diego Comic-Con is coming in July so I’m TRYING to save some money for it.  To that end, I’m TRYING to limit my spending until then.  The only game I’m currently planning to buy between now and then is Metal Gear Solid 4.  Granted, I have the Limited Edition reserved meaning its going to cost a bit, but if I can control myself, that should be the only thing I buy with that paycheck aside from the Limited Edition Strategy guide.  Unfortunately Brady Games seems to have lost the rights to produce the strategy guide meaning MGS4 won’t have an awsome limited edition guide like Snake Eater or Final Fantasy XII did.  Oh well, Prima did do those neat-looking hardcover Twilight Princess and Phantom Hourglass guides, even if the content inside wasn’t nearly as good as the Nintendo Power guide.

Anyways, this past week I decided to import the Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania books.  I ended up ordering the first two books (the third one isn’t out yet) from Amazon Japan.  The books came out something like $10 cheaper than they would have on Play-Asia with the cheapest shipping option and they automatically ship FedEx, so while I ordered them Saturday, I got them this morning.

The books are smaller than I expected.  I was expecting books roughly the size of a strategy guide (in terms of width and height).  Instead the books are slightly larger than a dvd, but are over 500-pages long each, so that makes up for it.  The first book covers all the characters in the main Final Fantasy series (which includes X-2).  Not being able to read Japanese (for the most part) I can’t decipher much of the content but the book does include a ton of images and artwork, which makes it easy to appreciate regardless.  The book contains a ton of Yoshitaka Amano’s artwork for the various characters, which alone would’ve been worth the price of the book for me. as well as several “History of” features covering, in images and text, the evolution of Final Fantasy mainstays like moogles and chocobos, as well as relationship charts, vital information, an interview with Yoshitaka Amano, who was the character designer for Final Fantasy I-VI and also FF IX, and a few other features I can’t decipher.

The second book, titled “Scenario” is a bit more difficult to appreciate without a working knowledge of Japanese.  As far as I can tell, the book contains World Maps for each game and a point by point walkthrough of the story for each game, told with many pictures of course.  It also includes an interview with Kazushige Nojima, who helped write the stories for Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X, X-2, and currently working on XIII.

The third book, entitled “Battle/Extra” is due out later this month or sometime next month.  I’m hoping that book covers the spin-offs and stuff like the Crystal Chronicles, which I believe is currently running the ball after the main series keeled over starting with Final Fantasy VII (with the exception of IX).  My thoughts on that are a blog for another day however so we’ll continue on.

This week I got the “Kefka’s Domain” soundtrack in the mail.  This soundtrack is just the US release of the Final Fantasy VI soundtrack but with different packaging and quite a bit more difficult to find.  From Amazon.com I ordered Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy, yet another Final Fantasy concert CD to join 20020220 and More Friends in my collection, as well as Grand Finale, which is a cd of orchestrated music from Final Fantasy VI.  These two cds were also cheaper via Amazon than through Play-Asia.  Although ordering from Amazon itself should keep me relatively safe, I’m always slightly worried about being shipped a bootleg but I guess I’ll handle that when I come to it.  Also, Amazon had a deal on the two Titus DVD sets so I grabbed those while I was there as well.

After 154 game days, I finally finished Final Fantasy – Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King.  I may review the game later so for now I’ll just say that I really enjoyed the game.  Definitely a unique experience as it blends the Crystal Chronicles universe with a mix of Sim City or Dark Cloud with Animal Crossing.  I can’t say the game is for everyone as there are still cries about how the game would be so much better with combat, I think combat in this game is unnecessary and would change the focus of the game.

With Crystal Chronicles done I’ve finally been able to sink some time into my other WiiWare launch game, Lost Winds.  From the moment I started the game I was immediately impressed by the art direction in the game.  Simply put, the game is beautiful.  The Wii may not have the graphic prowess of the PS3 or the 360, but so long as developers keep putting art direction before realism, I don’t think the system should have any problem competing.  Anyways, as you may already know, the game is a platformer.  You have Toku (I believe) which is the little guy that’s travelling the world with you.  You, being this recently awakened wind god.  While you can control Toku left and right, he can’t jump.  That’s left up to you and your wind godly powers.  Some very clever use of the mechanics and the Wii pointer make this game incredibly fun to play and like I said, the game is beautiful to look at.

Oh, a friend of mine recently got a PS3 and I’ve been trying to convince him and another friend of mine to take up Final Fantasy XI if only so we can form a party for a month or so.  I’m not particularly fond of MMORPGs, but I did play and enjoy FFXI, but not enough to pay and play it regularly.  I ended up buying the Final Fantasy XI Atlas, mostly for collection purposes, on ebay.  The auction also came with FFXI and the Chains of Promethea expansion for the PS2 which was cool, although I already have the game and the first three expansions for the 360, it did at least add value for the money.