Its early Saturday morning, I am at work and I have just brought myself a drink of warm brown stuff from the machine that lives in our waiting area. As I slurp down foamy fluid my mind is desperately trying to work out what it is and whether or not I have even been given what I asked for. It could be tea but I am not entirely sure. It could be coffee, or possible the sedimentary suspension gathered from the bottom of a septic tank (with milk); how would I ever know? It occurs to me that if I understood more about the mysterious device from whence it came I might be able to discern more accurately what it has spat into my cup.
Knows more than it lets on….
I really do not trust this machine… I do not trust how much stuff the this cream-coloured obelisk of disappointment apparently contains. There at least ten drinks listed on the front, (probably more but after that I run out of fingers) all of which I am assured are actually varying beverages, and not just brown paint mixed with sugar in random ratios. After careful deduction and spectral analysing of these ten I have concluded that there six basic elements; tea, coffee, chocolate, milk, water and sugar (they are on the periodic table, just under the bit where the sheet ends). All of these must be contained in a device the size of the average fridge, which does not sound that unusual until you realise that there must also be space enough for the paper cups, the money thing and accommodation for the 57 science fairies that make it all run.
This is pretty much the extent of my understanding of the universe.
Also there has to be an infinite supply of everything. I have sat watching for days on end and never once seen anyone come to top it up or transplant any of its contents. There are no pipes entering or leaving it, so where is the water coming from? Are the Hydrogen Gnomes in a constant state of mass conjugation with the Oxygen Gnomes? (A-level Chemistry ftw!) On one occasion a cup failed to dispense and for a brief moment I believed I had finally discovered the machines limit. Sadly however on my second attempt one did appear, with no explanation as to whether this was the second cup or simply the first cup running late.
How does one store even store such a vast quantity of such things safely? Does the it involve protons or something? Should I be worried about the Spacial Reduction Field tainting the caffeine? What about radiation levels? I swear one time it started humming I briefly went blind. It can not have just been me blinking, as I have given that up (that’s when they get you). The answer might be simply that everything is highly pressured and piercing the machines case with a pin will cause it to rocket off over the horizon like a O2 cylinder into the face of a Bond villain. Maybe its just a gateway to a hellish chaos dimension consisting of brown runny stuff.
All of this analysis leaves me with two possibilities; that machine is either a liar or has some how mastered Alchemy.
Yeah that looks exactly like what is in my cup.
Either way drinking its excrement is probably not a safe idea, especially now that The Machine know I am onto it. But what choice do I really have? Not drinking tea? That’s the most insane idea of them all. I am destined to continue this dance of death until one of us is gone or start bringing my own tea bags. When my body is finally found I can only hope the evaluation of my stomach contents will in some small help mankind in its war against coffee machines. Good luck to you all.
So its been a while since my last post, unfortunately life has meant that things have been taking a bit longer than expected. And by life I mean cleaning the poop out of my pants from playing SCP Containment Breach. For those of you who have not experienced this little digital nugget of nightmares yet, SCP is simple indie game set in a randomly generated, top-secret research facility. As usual some-one has balls something up and now you have to get yourself out of there quick or meet a grizzly end. Whilst this sounds like an average working day at Black Mesa, this game relies more on the tightness of your sphincter than your trigger finger. There are no weapons to help you here, just the knowledge that something is following you….
Much like its spiritual sister, Slender, SCP uses the a basic run-and-hide mechanic to regenerate its scares. The constant knowledge that you are being chased is what builds the tension and taps into the animal instinct inside us. The only means of defending yourself in this game is to stare at the terror balls-first. Literally. Much like the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who, the alien nasties pursing you only move when you are not looking at them. Or when you blink… The game has an ‘eye meter’ which counts down the seconds between blinks; leave it too long and you will shut your eyes momentarily, allowing you to be pounced on. In order to survive you have to follow The Doctors advice and ‘dont blink’ or at least control it as well as you can. Also enemies can teleport through walls, just to remind you that life is not fair…
It all sounds very easy on paper (or screen), until you try it for yourself. I am man enough to admit I cannot get past the first few doors of this game without running away and squealing like a Japanese school girl. If you want the full effect of this game (God knows why…) play it with the lights off and headphones set at full volume. For the rest of us, here is a little custom mod I created to easy the tension a little…. I call it Catainment Breach…
Save this file as ’173tex2′ then past it into the GFXS/npcs folder of your game so it replaces the original… enjoy! The original game can be downloaded (for free) from here: www.scpcbgame.com
Well its been a while. That’s okay, I suspected it would be. The chances of me being able to maintain any sort of regular commitment to something with out a controller/breasts are basically zero. Aside from that I have had a few minor and major life events to juggle that have played havoc with my procrastination schedule.
Luckily the human mind never sleeps (except when it is alseep) thus I have a whole back catalogue of posts to put up over the next few days. I have some new stuff on the Wii U and Vita, another Pre-review and more 100 word reviews for your eyeballing pleasure. Thanks to all of you for reading!
I was going to find a picture for ‘procrastination’ but I could not be bothered….
With this years E3 rapidly approaching, more and more attention is being paid to Nintendo’s new console, the Wii U. Last week a leaked photo of the revised tablet controller revealed that yes, this is to be the systems official name. You can call me a fan-boy if you like, but I have been playing Nintendo games since I was a child. I started off with an SNES; where Mario World, Super Metroid and Star Fox (called Star Wing in the UK for some reason) kept me entertained for many a long hour. When I was a few years older my parents brought me an N64 for my birthday and I remember games such as Goldeneye, Banjo Kazooie and Orcarina of Time wowing me and my friends with their chunky, polygonal graphics. This was the golden age for Nintendo. There where other Sega and Atari systems out at the time but no-one really cared about them. Every conversation was about Zelda or Goldeneye. Sadly this time did not last and I was lured away by the PSOne and the Final Fantasy series.When the Gamecube was released I put my faith in Nintendo once more and like many people was quickly disappointed. The problem with the Cube was not so much the library of games or its processing power, it was just a bit… meh. There was nothing stand-out about the system when compared to its competitors. Sure Zelda, Mario and Metroid where all there, but that was not enough to sell the system at the levels Nintendo needed. Its leaders seemed to realise this, and thus a few years later the Wii was born. Although only a fraction more powerful than its father, the uniqueness of its controls and accessibility for none gamers made it a smash hit. Despite the vast quantity of mediocre shovel ware and fitness/cooking sims, the Wii had secured its place in the market, creating a goldmine for Nintendo to rival that of the Pokemon crazy.
No joke for this one… its too serious.
So now we have the Wii U and my one main thought about it… What exactly is it for? This is the question I think will be asked the most and probably one Nintendo should be the worried about. Put simply, I cannot work out what sort of market this new machine is aimed at. On the one hand we have the new tablet controller. This the feature Nintendo has been pushing the most. So far evidence/fan theories suggest that it will have features such as being able to shift the game play to smaller screen, scanning physical items into the game world (ala Skylanders) and dynamic virtual controls. The way Nintendo has positioned the controller in the spotlight and not the system as a whole suggests to me that they are once again trying to sell it like the Wii, as a new way of playing games. The problem with this is that I am just not sure if a tablet controller is new and exciting enough on its own to sell a whole new console. Its not like touch controls have never been done before (see the DS/Vita/iPad) and I just do not feel that it will be exciting enough for people to want to replace their original Wii with it. The new market the Wii opened (and to a lesser extent the DS) was one that appealed to people who would not normally play a video game, ie, those not so technologically inclined. We have all seen the photos of the old folks playing Wii Sports in their care homes and I just cannot imagine those same people buying a Wii U just because it has a tablet. If anything a tablet is likely to put that audience off.
So if the specialist controller is not enough to move the system then what other selling point is Nintendo relying on? Is there some secret about the main console they have not revealed yet? Will they shock everyone at E3 by revealing the controller is the console? Because that would be awesome. A fully wireless system that can connect to a TV would certainly have that unique edge Nintendo needs to find again, although I highly doubt such a reveal is likely. So assuming Nintendo does not have a Shyamalan esq twist to stun us with, what else is there?
Well on the other hand we have the machine specs. One of the criticisms of the previous Wii was that it did not have enough to please hardcore gamers. It simply did not have the power to compete with the Xbox and PlayStation, also its online service was not up to scratch to handle the popular FPS games that where becoming all the rage. In my opinion however this was a none issue. Even if you could not afford more than one console at least you had a choice. Also with the 360 and PS3 there was little market room for a third hardcore device and really there still is not. Nintendo are trying to rectify this complaint now by providing a machine with power rumoured to be somewhere between half and twice that of the Xbox. Here I think the company needs to be very careful. Stepping back into the hardcore arena with anything less than twice that of current systems and people simply will not be interested enough. Half the power and the Wii U will be a joke to graphics hungry gamers. Also they had better be sure their online service is perfect from the start. No-one is going to payout for a new system on which to play Colonial Marines if it is sub-standard to what they already own, even if it has a funky new controller. On the subject of which, I am not sure how gamers who are used to the solid PS and Xbox controllers will take to it. Look at Sony and Microsoft’s and the basic twin-stick shoulder-trigger design is very similar. Unless Nintendo’s tablet is more comfortable then it looks I cannot imagine it being adopted for serious competitive play.
Could imagine this man buying one…?
The point I am trying to make with all this is that Nintendo is currently engaged in a two-tier approach to selling their Wii U. In one way they are trying to sell it to the same causal crowd who brought their previous inventive system, but in another way they are trying to appeal to the more seasoned gaming veterans like myself who perhaps grew up with their products but then moved on. What worries me is that I am not sure this approach is focused enough. By trying to appeal to everyone Nintendo could well end up with a unit that does many things but none of them well enough to compete. But maybe I am not being optimistic enough. Maybe the company which gave us the NES, the Gameboy and the Wii can pull off this hybrid console. Unfortuantly then I remember that this is the same company that also brought us the Gamecube, the Gameboy Printer and (gulp) the Virtual Boy. Then I long for my childhood and my N64 again….
Pictured: The empty space that replaced Virtual Boy…
I have to admit that I am not a real fan of horror or gore movies. I would rather watch a film about a man in tights saving the world than someone tortured to death. That said, I believe there is a place for violence in cinema as long as it supports the story and is not just there to make a quick buck with a few easy shocks. Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction and Fight Club are some examples of ultraviolence done right, but if there is one film that constantly lures me back with morbid fascination, its the Japanese cult hit Battle Royale.
Firstly let me make on thing clear, this is not a movie for children or tweenages trying to fill their need for more Hunger Games content. Although lots of people will mention the two franchises in the same sentence, Battle Royale is on a whole different level of black satire. It is filled with blood and death and trauma. Where as The Hunger Games kept its soul numbing depictions of child combat to a diluted second half of the movie, Battle Royale stretches its sickening tension for its entire running time. The atmosphere is dark and grim throughout, with the lower budget ‘fuzz’ of a Japanese movie constantly keeping things closer to reality then we would like. It is not one for the faint of heart, what I would refer to as midnight movie. (There is even a story that it was banned in the USA, although this is not technically true, it was more a case of no-one with the money for the licence wanting to stock it). But as with other controversial movies such as A Clock Work Orange, those who can stomach it will find and engaging, thought provoking story lies benieth its dark shell.
The film is based on the exploitation novel by Koushun Takami, who wrote the story as response to the Japanese governments treatment of their youth during the war, often forcing them into situations that would cost them their lives. Takami’s novel is set in the near future, where a totalitarian government rules Japan and most of Asia. As with all totalitarian dystopia Japan has a the constant problem of a population on the brink of uprising, especially amongst it younger generation who are becoming increasingly unruly and rebellious. In order to keep the order the Battle Royale act is passed, meaning that each year one class of 15-16 year olds is selected at random and taken to a secret location where they are fitted with explosive necklaces and forced to fight to the death over 3 days. The sole survivor is allowed to return home. It is centred around the 42 students of class 3-B, each with his or own chapter and story arc, but focuses mainly on the three antagonists; Shuya, Noriko and Kawada, all of whom are determined not to be dragged into the game.
‘Now don’t worry, Michael Bay assures me all the pyrotechnic stuff we crammed inside them will look great on camera… ACTION!’
For the most part the film adaptation does it best to copy this structure, with most students getting their own scenes, some of which are much more well developed then others. As with all book to film conversations a lot of the content is lost in transit and if you really want the full story of each of the 42 characters you ideally need to read the manga. Maybe if the remake ever comes, and I sort of hope it wont, then a trilogy with a movie for each day would be a more effective way of covering everything. Despite this, enough is retained to keep the movie constantly interesting, and its mass of characters and short stories that make it so engaging.
Looks like the sort of girl you could take home to meet your mother.
As a single movie with so much content stuffed into two hours, the pacing is surprising well done, with enough action to keep everything following nicely. Also for a large cast of young actors, most of whom were the same age as their characters, the acting is also surprisingly consistent. The director Kinji Fukasaku is well known for pushing his employees hard, are method which obviously works as most put in a pretty good performance. I could certainly feel the panic and fear a lot more then I could in The Hunger Games. The person who stood out to me the most was Takeshi Kitano, (an ex-comedian oddly) as the miserably evil teacher/overseer, who does a great job of looking both tired and psychotic at the same time. Also good was Tarô Yamamoto, playing the game veteran Kawada, who looks like we would be more at home in an 80′s action movie and gives a spark of old school ‘Die Hard’ heroism to the otherwise dark proceedings.
Although still an excellent film, Battle Royale does have a few problems. As I mentioned before the amount of attention each character gets is pretty impressive given the running time, although occasional it does feel as though other bits of the story have been sacrificed in order to make everything fit. Certain key plot points relating to necklaces seem to be missing from the last few scenes, as if the writer could not think of a proper way to explain the situation so just skipped over it. We get the general idea of what happened, but it seems an odd piece of the story to skip, given the importance which is placed on it earlier. The other main problem is that the ending suffers from a rather bizzare moment with Takeshi Kitano. If you have already seen the film then you will know want I am talking about. This could be some cultural thing I do not understand, but judging by the expressions on the faces of the other characters I am not convinced. Its such a strange moment and the way comes out of nowhere just destroys the tension in the final moments.
‘… I just wanted you to next the tv listings, see if there’s anything worth me hanging on for… Battle Royale 2? Screw that.’ *dies*
The final thing I have to note about Battle Royale that it will always be best the first time around. The key to this movie is the shock value, which is what makes the atmosphere work so well. Once you know what to expect you are still left with an entertaining movie, but it does feel as though it loses something. In some ways repeated viewing is advisable as you are likely to miss things the first time, but it just does not work quite as well.
Battle Royale is a cult classic for a reason, it is terrific and terrifying but certainly not for everyone. Most people will not get past the basic concept and without feeling decidedly uncomfortable. But that is exactly what the movie is made to do. Discomfort makes fear, fear makes tension and tension makes a thrilling piece of cinema. Sometimes the most memorable movie experiences are the ones that make us remember them, and if you watch Battle Royale you will not be forgetting it any time soon. A must watch for fans of Japanese entertainment or cult cinema followers, assuming you have the steel stomach required and a nice Disney flick to wash the taste out after.
Because there’s nothing dark or disturbing in any of their films.
Halo is still a solid shooter without the complexity of more modern entries, which will suit some more than others. The story still carries enough entertainment to make it worth playing for either the first or second time, while the graphics have been cleaned up significantly. There are few other additions and the lack of mulitplayer seems strange, but is understandable given the popularity of Reach. The game instead carries the Anniversary DLC map-pack for Reach, allowing for the traditional maps to be played online. Unfortuantly this game is not full £40, but would have benefited from being a downloadable title.
At the time of writing I am currently stuck on a train somewhere between the real world and Birmingham New Street. I have only phone and Nintedo DS with a dead battery to sustain me. After an hour of sitting here my mind is desperately trying to think of a way to recharge a battery using only my hair and a handful of fluff I found at the bottom of my bag. I cant survive on Angry Birds for much longer…
I’ve been playing for so long all I can think about are piglets weeping over little round coffins…. war is hell.
For reasons beyond my understanding the trains conductor seems to have taken a wrong turn somewhere back by the Five Ways round-about and has driven us all down an abandoned mine shaft. I can only guess that this is fact the approach to New Street Station. The horror builds in the pit of my stomach. For those of you who have never visited this joyous little cavernous abyss, just picture Thomas the Tank Engine meets The Descent.
So why am I heading there? At this stage I really can’t remember. I’ve been stuck here so long I think my eyes are healing over. My spine is degenerating into a hardened exoskeleton and soon my arms will have withered down to nothing. Above me it could be either midday or midnight. I hope its midday, as midnight in Birmingham usually involves getting covered vomit sooner or later.
The conductor has just told us that the ‘slight delay’ has been caused by congestion at the station. This question has probably been addressed before, but just how do you manage to get a congested train station? They’re on tracks. I’ve seen those massive model railways they have down in Cornwall. Hundreds of little engines scurrying about little cardboard hills and comedy nudist beaches. That’s all controlled by just one man with a dial, and they do alright. Why can’t full size trains just work in the same way? When I was three I had a Duplo train set that was more effectively managed, that’s even after I had eaten the wheels.
Terrified Lego citizens flee their plastic town as it is devoured by an unstoppable 3 year old.
My thinking is that we need to copy Japan. Last year, only one in sixty-four million of their trains was late, as is my understanding. We (that is the people England-land) designed the steam engine, and now they get to lord it over us with their reliable, clean, wide-gauge railways? That’s not fair. Although as a side note I do have a suspicion that maybe their network is not as comfortable as they make it out be. I’ve seen that video, with the men in white gloves stuffing people onboard like they’re trying to put away a Pac-a-Mac. I want to see the video from the next stop, when the doors open and everyone sprays out like a bizarre Mentos-Coke Fountain of Japanese commuters.
I am not an expert, (although this is the internet so screw it, I’ll say I’m High Professor of Trains if that makes people listen to me) but why not an extra carriage, Japan? Yes I know people will say ‘but then it will be too long for the platform’. But screw the platform. If you are prepared to cram onto a packed train and come out flatter then the Coyote at the end of a particularly unsuccessful Roadrunner episode, then surly you will be prepared to stand in the mud? Anyway, I should not be so quick to criticise other countries transport systems when in writing the last three paragraphs I’ve only moved about three feet and that was only to throw my hair-fluff power source out the window before it went into melt down.
Picture: Legitimate Transportation Alternative
So what is the solution then? Other than killing myself with the cord from my underpants? I would like to go on record as having been the first to suggest an endless train. One that just keeps going around and back on itself like an escalator. It could be done. Just mind the gap as you leap on and remember to tuck and roll when you dive off again.
Someone, I can’t remember who, suggested paving over the train lines and using them as extra motorways. Okay, I can see that. Filling Birmingham New Street with concrete is an interesting idea. I have a list of other buildings we could bury while we are at it. But are you not just as likely to get stuck on a motorway as you are on a train? On a train you may not be guaranteed a seat, but at least you don’t have to be constantly worrying about the truck driver on his mobile. Unless he’s on the seat next to you, playing Hip-Hop at a volume that would overpower a shuttle launch. Nor do you have to worry about the million other little metal murder boxes sharing the road with you; cutting across lanes and generally shuffling around you like a high-speed Rubix cube of death.
Car or train, basically, we’re boned. Save up for a hovercraft. (Or dig up all major cities and move them closer move together.) Maybe I’m being too hard on the British Transport Network… No wait. No I’m not. The sodding train’s just moved thirty centimetres and stopped again. Maybe there’s a leaf on the line in the tunnel. If so, maybe they would like me to go and pick it up for them.
Now I grow weary and my eyes are dimming… if this rambling rant makes it to the internet, it means I somehow survived. Possibly by eating the chewing gum I found had been used to stick a ticket to the window. If not, someone call for International Rescue.
If there was one video game series I could always rely on for hours of entertainment it was SquareEnix’ Final Fantasy. Back in the days before Skyrim and the ‘open world’ these games would keep me busy for weeks if not months, just what you needed when games only came on birthdays or at Christmas. Entries such as 7, 8 and 9 had completion times of well over 40 hours and that was solid play time, none of that aimless wandering around between objectives like today (well not all the time anyway). Each of those hours was filled with imaginative locales, awesome music and interesting, if often quirky, characters to interact and engage with. It was these characters and their storylines that kept me sitting in front of my tv for hours on end, so just as personal thing I’ve decided to list my top ten Final Fantasy Heros. In order to keep it simple I have decide to only include characters from the main game series, so no spin-offs or sequels. They also they have to be playable in the main game. Here is my party of choice;
Number 10. – Sazh Katroy (FFXIII)
Final Fantasy XIII is never going to be my favourite Final Fantasy. When the trailer came out showing its fluid combat system and awesome theme music, I was really excited. Unfortuantly the rest of the game was no-where near as thrilling. The story was buried in a pile of terminology and half-baked mythology whilst the massive explorable worlds were reduced to a bunch of corridors and a single big field. Maybe because the story was weak, or maybe visa-versa, the characters themselves where not particularly interesting either. The one notable exception was Sazh Katroy. On first appearance he came across as the typical Japanese stereotype of a black person (with all that implies) but as the game moved on I found him to be the most human and well developed of all the party members. Sazh’ plot is centred around him searching for his lost son and doing everything he can to get him back. He acts as the main comic relief, refreshing in a game which really needs to lighten up, but is also well developed as a believable person. When he finds those responsible his reaction is wide range of emotions including anger and depression, however he refuses to let this get the better of him choosing to do what is right instead of giving up. As I played through 13 I was more interested in this guys quest then I was in Lightnings and in feel Square should have made this man their main lead. Also he has a baby Chocobo living in his afro. Thats cool.
Number 9. – Auron (FFX)
Auron is a badass. Stoic and gruff, his personality is defined more cleaving enemies in half then it is with edgy dialogue. Whilst that is not a new thing in video games, or even in a Final Fantasy game, Auron is an example of an archetype done well. Unlike other such characters, he has enough to say to keep him interesting and give him a firm standing in the games plot. Rather then having any strong personal development, he instead acts as the mentor, leading the main character Tidus through his journey and protecting the summoner Yuna as he did her father. The main reason I enjoy Auron is his design. With his pony tail, sunglasses and jar of booze hanging from his belt (which he uses as part of his attacks, yay) he looks like a cyber-punk warrior monk gone bad. His theme music is also pretty cool, with its thumping beat making everything feel more manly as soon as it starts playing.
Number 8. – Cecil Harvey (FFIV)
Cecil is a favourite of many a Final Fantasy fan, mostly due to fact that this was the first of the well written video game hero they encountered. Whilst I personally did not share that experience (Final Fantasy 7 was my first) I can at least appreciate why the Dark-Warrior-turned-Paladin is so well regarded. Final Fantasy IV was the next game to be released outside of Japan following the original NES game, creating a massive impact with its well told story and varied characters. Cecil was the games main character, who we follow on his path from servant of evil too redeemed hero. The interactions between him and the other characters, including his lover Rosa, show a man confused about his destiny and what he should do with his life. Everyone has these doubts at some point in their life, and so too see such a relatable figure in a time when video games were all about jumping on things was truly exceptional and worth remembering.
Number 7. – Sabin Rene Figaro (FFVI)
Final Fantasy 6 had a large roster of memorable characters, but out of all of them Sabin is the who who stands out the most to me. This is partly down to the amount of funny scenes that are centred around him (there is something inherently hilarious about watching 16-bit sprites bouncing around a screen) and his Street Fighter style special attacks. It is also down to the story arc he shares with his brother and the relationship between them. Despite being heirs to the throne of Figaro, both him and Edgar are reluctant to accept their responsibility and so settle it with the toss of a coin, the outcome of which means Sabin is free to go live his dreams but must leave his brother. The encounters between them are both funny and touching, and are something I always enjoy about playing the game.
Number 6. – Red XIII (FFVII)
Red XIII is the child who wants to be a man, or in this case a puppy trying to be a wolf (which is far cuter). When he is first met in the Shinra tower it seems as those he will become the old wise man of the team, providing wisdom and guidance. So when later it turns out he is not as old or as wise as he was making out, things get a lot more interesting. Sudden having to reassess a character is great little plot twist which gives Red XIII much more depth then he initially appeared to have. The way in which it is revealed, a side-plot involving his disgraced father, is well done and does not feel like it is just being forced in just for the sake of it, instead creating a lot of sympathy for the young pup. Red XIII is a hero who would have been an unique addition simply because, well he’s a dog, but instead is give a wealth of personality because the writers put that extra bit of effort in.
Number 5. – Laguna Loire (FFVIII)
Although he is technically more of side character than a main one, Laguna does play a vital role in the storyline of Final Fantasy 8. There are three main reasons why this man is on my list. First, way in which his life is told through a series of flashbacks, ranging from his life as solider and then as a journalist, is an interesting way of revealing it. Secondly he looks like a fun guy to hang out with. He is easy going and relaxed, if sometimes a bit too relaxed, thus is just the sort of man you could have a few drinks with. Especially in a world everyone has some heavy emotional baggage about being an orphan they have to deal with. Thirdly his battle music is awesome. The Man with the Machine Gun is a fan favourite and the perfect piece to get you ready for that up coming boss battle.
Number 4. - Balthier (FFXII)
Much like Sazh in Final Fantasy 13, Balthier is one of the few things that lifts Final Fantasy 12 slightly above being mediocre. In a plot that bares a strong resemblance to Star Wars, he is the Han Solo stand in; complete with furry sidekick. He is the dashing rouge of the party, self-assured and confident but becoming increasing likeable as things progress. As the son of a disgraced scientist, Balthier has spent most of his life trying to sever his ties with the past. During the game tries to help the Princess Ashe from repeating the same mistakes, eventually giving his life (apparently) to save everyone else. I have always liked roguish protagonists and Balthier’s character is supported with some brilliant written dialogue which is often comedic and poetic at the same time, showing that a hero can be intellectuality without loosing the humour. As with Sazh, Balthier stands out as being much more unique then the others in 12, so when he refers to himself as the leading man I cannot help but feel the whole game would have been better if he was.
Number 3. – Vivi Orunitia (FFIX)
Everyone who has played Final Fantasy 9 loves Vivi. Especially girls. Even though he is filled to the teeth (if he has them) with black magic and explosions, his shy disposition and innocent outlook make him a defining and huggable entry in the series. But despite his cute, childlike personality, Vivi actually has one of the most interesting and thought provoking sub-plots of any Final Fantasy character so far. Discovering he is little more than a mass produced (and weaponised) doll, Vivi’s quest is about finding meaning in both his life and his inevitable death, all of which is portrayed through his childish innocence. This often leads to a lot of moments that are either, funny, touching or tragic but always endearing, adding a whole new layer of depth to what would otherwise be a fairly simple story about a princess and thief. From a gameplay point of view, Vivi is also one of the best people to have one your side in a fight, with a vast collection of black magic ranging from simple fire spells to summoning huge meteorites of doom with enough destructive power to have Michael Bay dribbling down his shirt.
Number 2. – Yuna (FFX)
Most Final Fantasy girls seem to fall into one of three types; the strong, empowered (and often large chested) warrior, the helpless princess (traditional) and the quirky, feisty teenager who is there mostly just to look cute. The reason I like Yuna so much is because she is a bit of all these things, without becoming another stereotype. She needs the help of the hero but is also capable of acting on her own. She is quiet and demur but is also brave and determined. She is cute but does not exist purely for that reason. Yuna is a well balanced heroine who I like for many of the same reasons I like Vivi; she is nice without being a wimp. Also she can summon flame demons and looks good in hot pants. That always helps. The love story between her and Tidus is also kind of sweet, but I would never admit that in public or on the internet.
Number 1. – Cid Highwind (FFVII)
Cid Highwind is without doubt one of my favourite characters of all time. When I was a youth, Final Fantasy 7 was one of the first games I played after Mario, Metroid and Zelda; so when me and my friend encounter this foul-mouthed pilot he instantly became our favourite. A video game character that smokes, drinks tea and swears like a sailor? It was an amazing thing to see. But that was not the only reason I like Cid so much. He his dream to becoming the first man in space and desire to make something of his life is something we can all relate too. Watching the Shinra rocket crash back to the launch pad and then finally launch into space still packs a lot of emotion; it reminds me of a time when all you need to complete your dream was to believe hard enough. And defeat Weapon. Without Cids wisecracks and little censored rants I would not have loved Final Fantasy 7 as much as I did. Without Final Fantasy 7 I would not have got into video games as much as I did, and without video games I would not be the person I am today. So thanks Cid, you foul mouthed old %!X#%$.