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Nick’s E3 2010 Expectations, Dreams & Wishes

Nick

It’s hard to tell which genre of games I like. People would say RPGs but I’d rather call them story-driven games. I mostly enjoy JRPG games like Final Fantasy X but I also like  WRPGs like Elder Scrolls or Mass Effect. Next to RPGs there are adventure/point and click games ranging from Uncharted to Hotel Dusk and Phoenix Wright. I don’t really like shooter or strategy games, mainly because I can’t see anything interesting/exciting in them (killing people with guns never interested me -_-)

I’m expecting a lot of E3 this time. Some developers seem to create more action-oriented games for multiple consoles that all look the same, others create a mass of mobile games (iPhone) or small budget titles for PSN or XBL. There are few developers that dare to create big new IPs which are unique, fresh and original.   I think, with 2 possible new consoles (N3DS and PSP2), the possibility exists that  a lot of new IPs will be announced at the upcoming event, maybe even some new RPGs? I’m hoping for it! I understand that creating FPS and action games is money making but some developers need to have the guts to do something original. As far as I know, all those unique titles were received greatly by gaming media.

Besides new (RPG) IPs, are there any specific games I’m looking forward to? Yes, next to Uncharted 3, Mass Effect 3 and some others I can’t remember right now, there are some very specific games I’d like to see at this E3:

bk Baten Kaitos 3

I never was really sure which RPG was the best RPG I’ve ever played. The guess was between Final Fantasy X and Baten Kaitos. After seemingly years of debate,  I made up my mind. Baten Kaitos on Nintendo GameCube is the best RPG I’ve ever played. While it was confusing for some, BK had the best battle system I’ve ever seen in any game. The game featured great character designs, an interesting story, awesome music by Sakuraba and stunning, breathing environments that I will never forget. I was disappointed that BK2  never reached Europe but apparently the game sold badly in US. Nevertheless, I would love to see a new Baten Kaitos title, or even a remake of the original. I’m pretty sure it would be received a lot better in times were JRPGs are slowly dying. I can’t express how I feel about this game, but Namco created a gem that I will never forget. I wonder if this gem will finally appear once more at E3…

 

lo   Lost Odyssey 2

Lost Odyssey was a strange game, it didn’t have some sort of character growth system, neither a truly interesting battle system or menu interface. The story, with exception of Kaim’s memories in “A Thousand Years of Dreams”, wasn’t all too exciting either. Despite all this, I loved Lost Odyssey and many will agree that this is one of the best Xbox 360 RPGs. It is thus far the only game that I really see as a JRPG similar to Final Fantasy X and countless PS2 JRPGs, in the current generation of consoles. I’d love to see a sequel in some way, though I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon.

 

esIV The Elder Scrolls V

I love open world gameplay and games that never really end. That’s mainly the reason why I’m so excited for FFXIV, to know that it’ll never end and there will be always something to do.  Elder Scrolls IV was such a game, it simply hit me, it hit me hard with a breathing world, lore and so much things to do. I’d love to see a sequel, that’s all.

ph  An interesting Capcom (mobile) 2D adventure title.

I love Capcom’s Ace Attorney games. They were one of the few portable titles that got me hooked and were I actually cared about the characters and story. Ace Attorney is classified as an Adventure game however for me it is a completely new genre of games. The creator of these games is working on a completely new game called Ghost Trick which, similar to Ace Attorney, will feature unique gameplay and story. At E3, I’d like to see more of this game and maybe something else Capcom’s been working on. Devil May Cry 5, perhaps?

gs Golden Sun (3?)DS

We haven’t heard anything about Golden Sun since the original announcement at E309. If you’ve never played Golden Sun and looked at the GBA games, you might not like them. I, however, played the second game and absolutely loved it so I’m looking forward to hear more about this title. I think it’s strange we haven’t seen anything about this title for such a long time so maybe they’re porting it to the 3DS?

vs Final Fantasy Versus/Agito/Haeresis XIII

You might have noticed how Square Enix localizes their titles faster with smaller gaps between the Japanese, North American and European release. I would not be surprised if the next FF Versus trailer features English voices and an English UI. As many of you, I’d love to see Versus at E3 however they’ve basically denied it in the recent Kingdom Hearts interview. Final Fantasy Versus XIII is in development for a long time already, however the development team also assisted with the development of many other titles so my guess is that Versus’s development won’t reach completion soon.

I believe that Square Enix won’t show Versus, but rather Agito XIII at this year’s E3 conference, since the game has already a release date pinned down (my guess is Winter 2010). Only god knows…Versus or Agito? Both? No one? Or will Square Enix opt for a reveal of the 4th Fabula Nova Crystallis title? The myth of the patented Haeresis? Some say Haeresis was originally FFXIV, others say it was simply patented for development at a later time. A few years back, I thought it was the codename for a Final Fantasy X movie, today I think it’s a project lead by Yasumi Mitsuda (Square Enix Production Team 4, known for the Ivalice Alliance games including FFXII)

Besides all of this, I’d like to see some kick-ass trailers for games like Final Fantasy XIV, the Last Story and the Last Guardian (many more that I can’t remember right now. Write “games” on a scrap of paper, think and yes, those games!)

New Hardware

I’m looking forward to announcements about the Nintendo 3Ds and the rumored PSP2 but I hope the other consoles will stick to Natal and Move for a while. The full potential of consoles like PS3, Xbox 360, and even Wii still hasn’t been  discovered yet. For some odd reason I don’t have 3D vision but I’m afraid Nintendo will use their 3D chip as an excuse to push the price high and make the console as bulky as the original Nintendo DS. A long time ago, there were rumors about Nintendo working on a Wii HD console that would be free for everyone who own a Wii already. It would go on sale only a month after E3. I don’t believe the last part, Nintendo would never do something like that, however I’d like to see a Wii HD. Some people try games like Super Mario Galaxy on a Wii HD emulator and they look very nice with upscaled graphics. I’d also like to see a big PS3 firmware with enhanced support for PlayStation 2 titles. There were rumors about Sony working on a PlayStation 2 emulator and I’m sure a lot of fans would like to see that. That big firmware update should also include a PS video store for European countries. Unfortunately, if there was going to be a firmware update, it would probably be to include a Premium PSN service. I’m fine with that, however they shouldn’t let you pay a monthly subscription to play online games like Microsoft does. Speaking of updates, the Nintendo Wii should also get a major update. I’m beginning to feel that the user interface is outdated a bit and  would like to see some new features such as a demo service, custom backgrounds, some new cool channels and the ability to read DVDs.

Alongside with new hardware there should also be some new games. 3DS with tilt sensor should open up many opportunities for developers to create a new form of games and to port iPhone games to 3DS. I’m not a fan of motion controls because people think your strange when your playing such a game in a public place. If the 3DS is as powerful as the GameCube, expect to see lots of GameCube games ported to the device *coughbatenkaitoscough*. With 2 screens, updated graphics, new controls and an analog stick, the 3DS seems like the perfect console for RPGs.

Microsoft and Windows Phone 7

To finish this thing off, let’s talk about Microsoft. It’s obvious that they’ll be introducing an Xbox Slim and maybe a price drop. I’m looking forward to see more from Natal since it didn’t seem all too responsive at last year’s E3 conference. I also love gadgets and phones so I’ll keep an eye out on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, a major update to their mobile operating system which is scheduled to launch this winter. Besides a complete make-over of their outdated OS, the phones will also be centered around games. You can connect your Gamertag to your phone to  play, buy, or even try games from a sweet looking Marketplace. Furthermore, WP7 is the first portable device that supports achievements. I think Microsoft is able to transform their phones into true gaming consoles on par with DS/PSP since the devices have been met with an enormous praise saying that it’s the first device that will be able to beat the iPhone. Another reason could be the ability to easily port iPhone games to WP7, games that are seamlessly compatible with WP7, PCs and Xbox 360  or the high-end developer environment for developing games and applications using Silverlight and XNA Game Studio. I wonder if Microsoft will debut these devices as actual gaming consoles at E3, it seems likely!

At Last…

I’m keeping me eyes on the big guns I’m interested in like Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Capcom, Namco, Bethesda and of course Square Enix! Many great announcements were made but there’ll sure be so much other ones! Whatever you’re interested in, keep a close eye on your favorite video game sites (including this one!) because it’s going to be an event of a lifetime!

P.S.: Last year live streams were pretty horrible. I hope this year’s streams will be better. Technology is advanced enough to make HQ streams or even HD streams possible. This year Nintendo will stream their own conference and IGN is partnering with YouTube to provide the live streams so there is hope! Great announcements need great quality footage!

What are your E3 expectations, dreams and wishes? Let us know!

Nick, June 13 2010

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Let’s bring back Final Fantasy memories

At the eve of possibly Japan’s best-selling RPG ever, let’s take a moment to actually look back at the past Final Fantasy games. Below are 9 of my most memorable Final Fantasy songs which will sure bring back some memories.

Final Fantasy I – III:

Final Fantasy VII:

Final Fantasy X:

Final Fantasy XI:

Final Fantasy XIV:

And finally 2 tracks from Final Fantasy XIV (performed last week) that prove Uematsu-san is back:

Enjoyed it? These are my personal favorite’s but there are many more tracks found on YouTube.

With Final Fantasy XIII releasing in a few hours the long wait is finally over, at least for Japanese people. We will have to wait until March 9th to play the game. Until then I’ll keep you updated on every tidbit of FFXIII, Versus or Agito news! 

13thCrystal

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13 useful Japanese learning sites

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Next week Final Fantasy XIII will hit Japanese stores and because a lot of European/North American people pre-ordered this game I think it’s a good idea to share my Japanese learning tools with you. I’m only learning Japanese actively since last year on my own rate so I’m not yet a intermediate speaker. The websites below have proven to be great learning tools for Japanese students. Don’t make any illusions, you won’t be able to master Japanese in 4 days, but knowing the basics is always helpful.

I’ve divided the sites in different categories with my own comments.

Writting:

Kanjistep: http://www.kanjistep.com/

When I first started Japanese last year I learned Katakana and Hiragana with this site. A great, but relatively unknown, site with a very good Kana chart and exercises. If you’ve pre-ordered FFXIII and don’t know anything about Japanese, I’d advise you to learn Katakana here. It can be recognized in one week and you’ll be able to read a lot of names, locations and attacks with this.

Japanese About: http://japanese.about.com/od/writing/u/Writing.htm

The About.com page for Japanese is loaded with lots of content, so it might be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for but has very good explanations and grammar.

The Kanjisite: http://www.kanjisite.com/

For those who want to learn (more about) Kanji this is a great site with lots of information. There is a basic step-by-step guide but besides that the website will probably be more used as a “dictionary” for Kanji. Remember JLPT4 = Easy –> JLPT2 = hard.

Grammar

Tae Kim’s guide to Japanese: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar

Even if this site is the 4th item, it is definitely the best site for learning Japanese grammar. I can’t say how much I love this site so I’d advise to click the link and read the introduction to see for yourself how this site distinguishes itself from other expensive learning books.

The only problem I have with this site is that it teaches you a lot at high speed and “newbie’s” will probably have something like “WTF is this?” when reading the first 6 lessons. I’d advise you to use this site if you’re sure you can handle it or as a summary and wider explanation of what you learned somewhere else.

The Japanese page: http://thejapanesepage.com/

A lot of lessons; videos, audio and a nice community wrapped under a bad template design but still a good source.

Vocabulary:

Smart.fm: http://smart.fm/home

This is a very good learning tool which I use a lot. I recommend to use it if you want to learn Japanese (or other languages)

Verb conjugations:

 Japanese Verbs: http://www.timwerx.net/language/jpverbs/index.htm

Japanese verbs have a lot of conjugations. Unlike English verbs aren’t conjugated according to the subject of a sentence. The verb endings determine a variety of expressions, from “easy to do” to the conditional forms (if…). Since the sentences are written in Romaji (the way how you pronounce the Japanese words) this site also serves as a good exercise to write the sentences again in Hiragana/Katakana.

Japanese online dictionaries and translators:

WWWJDIC: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C 

Very popular (and powerful) tool developed by Jim Breen. If you have an iPhone/iPod Touch, I’d advise you to download “Kotoba!” . This free offline application makes use of Jim Breen’s database to provide translations, writing instructions, examples and detailed word info in English, French and German. It has a much nicer interface than the above site. I always use it when playing Japanese games or watching Japanese videos because I’ve always been able to find every word. You can download it from the iTunes store.

Excite!: http://www.excite.co.jp/world/ 

A very good translator which still is able to give some wonky results sometimes. When you’ve to translate a Japanese text, it’s best to do with this one and Google Translate below

Google Translate: http://translate.google.com/?hl=eng#

You’ll probably know this. Alternatives are Babelfish or Bing Translator.

YouTube:

Nihongo Dekimasu: http://www.youtube.com/user/momo3149#p/u

Online lessons that have proven to be quite helpful for people. While completely in Japanes (with dialogues translated in English) it still is a very good and fun learning method.

Books:

The JapanShop: You can find a variety of Japanese learning books here: http://www.thejapanshop.com/home.php

I personally advise you to use the “Genki: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese” books. They are easily the best Japanese learning books containing understandable grammar, vocabulary and Kanji (as well as Hiragana and Katakana)

Other:

Me and the others! I’m still upper-beginner but I’d love to help you. I’m sure that people like Tae Kim and the other sites I mentioned above will help you too with professional advice when you’ve got questions.

Feel free to contact me: the13thcrystal@hotmail.com


 

If you’ve got time and are importing FFXIII, you should follow theses steps the next 4 days:

For Beginners (when you know absolutely nothing about Japanese)

1. Learn a bit of Japanese culture on Wikipedia

2. Learn about the Japanese writing systems and start learning Katakana from Tae Kim’s guide.

3. Start using smart.fm and learn Japanese Core 2000: Part 1

You can’t finish this in four days but it learns you some very good vocabulary. Be sure to use iKnow (not the embedded tool) and change the difficulty setting to display only Katakana/Hiragana/ABC… of your choice. There’s a relentless amount of lists including some with RPG vocabulary.

 For (upper)-intermediates (when you know already a lot of Japanese but need to improve it further)

1. Extend your Japanese grammar even further with Tae Kim’s special expressions and advanced topics

2. Start an RPG specific list on smart.fm

3. Look at the Japanese FFXIII screenshots to review what you’re able to understand.


 

I hope these 13 sources really help you if you’re wanting to learn Japanese (or even if you’re learning it already. I hope I peeked someone’s interest in studying Japanese.

がんばって!

Follow me on Twitter:  13thCrystal

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Reminder: Follow me on Twitter!

I always forget to say this at the end of a post, but I’ve got a twitter account. WordPress automatically tweets (posting on twitter, verb) the title and link when I publish a new article. It’s incredibly useful to be up-to-date with my latest posts and sometimes I might publish something exclusive on it  regarding FFXIII (like a wallpaper or HQ scans/audio).

So, follow me on Twitter: 13thCrystal

Don’t be afraid when I post something in my local language (Dutch).

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Me and Japan (part 1)

Me and my Japanese:

I think it’s time to tell you all a little bit more about myself. I’m 16 years old and addicted to Japanese. I’m studying it on my own for about 1 year now and I love it. I don’t really know where to begin but I’ll start from the very beginning, the bad part…

1) An important decision

 It was like yesterday …

A cloudy sunday evening in my local Chinese restaurant. I didn’t know anything about Asian languages/countries so I didn’t know it was a Chinese restaurant. I was very interested in Asian language at that time (probably because we went to the restaurant each week) and my parents talked with the people from the restaurant (now very close friends) about possible Chinese lessons nearby our home. Their son – 8 years old – also was going to start Chinese lessons (He was already learning 3 other languages) and we would consider the option to start the Chinese lessons together. After a long talk with our Chinese friends my parents asked me if it was alright to register me.

I said: “No.”

Somehow I felt that Chinese wasn’t the language I wanted to study. My heart belonged somewhere else… Immeadiately I knew that I would be interested in Japanese. I knew absolutely nothing about Japan, but after reading Wikipedia  and seeing the map of Japan I was in love. In love with the geographical area. In love with the wonderfully old but new culture. In love with the Japanese writting. In love with the densely populated cities and tranquille forgotten nature. In love with the simplicity, yet complexity. And of course in love with the innovative grammatical aspects of the language itself. In a blink of an eye I simply  knew that Japan was my destiny…

I looked at many other Asian languages, cultures, pictures and maps but none of them interested me more than Japan did… And if you know Japanese you’ll probably understand this, isn’t it?

I wanted to start learning it as soon as possible but, because Japanese is basically unknown in my little country, I couldn’t find a Japanese language school. So even if I was much younger than now, I made an important but conscious decision: I will learn this language on my own…

And that was the start of all the misery…

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