torstai 2. tammikuuta 2014

Happy New Year!

As far as I'm concerned, this little "Christmas vacation" is over. 2014 has been here for a couple of days already and that means the fourth full year of this blog has started. Just yesterday, I took a gander at the amazing amount of games I've reviewed since the summer of 2010, and once again realized I'm not even close to reviewing every single game I always or never wanted to review. So let's get cracking; let's make 2014 a good one.

These last couple of years have been kinda slow and silent. Many good ideas have gone to waste due to my lack of motivation - which, I once again assure you, is only due to the amazing amount of civic and social duties I have on my hands. When it comes down to actually playing or writing about games within the very little time I have to spare, actually playing them easily takes the win. But, after two full years of trying to find the proper balance to be able to maintain this blog as it was originally intended, and more importantly, stick to my long-term plans (currently, the Marvel marathon), I think I'm beginning to get it. Here's to hoping it eventually shows.

I got only one game for Christmas, a very cheap and easy choice (an Xbox LIVE Arcade compilation), but it's only because people know damn well I take good care of that part myself. I bought nearly 20, if not precisely 20, games in December. One of them hasn't even arrived yet, which is quite strange, 'cause I bought it from a Finnish auction site three weeks ago, and the guy who sold the game gave me (very simple) feedback on the same day I handled the payment, and still, the game isn't here.

Final Fantasy III is. A completely new, custom-made game, ordered all the way from Ohio, USA, arrives on New Year's Eve, although it's scheduled to arrive somewhere in the middle of February. Amazing. You know what's even more amazing? It WORKS. And it looks incredible. Here, let me show you. (Sorry for the soddy picture quality, my phone's camera has some weird issues.)

One of the best-spent 60 € ever.
Let's go over this one more time: Final Fantasy III was released in Japan on April 27th, 1990. Due to the decline of the NES and the fact that Square was already working on Final Fantasy IV for the SNES, Final Fantasy III was NEVER released outside Japan. The original Final Fantasy II was never released outside Japan either, but it eventually became the subject of faithful re-releases, starting with serving as the second half of the PlayStation release Final Fantasy Origins. The very first international release of Final Fantasy III was a 3D remake for the Nintendo DS, released in 2006, and every subsequent re-release has more or less been based on that enhanced version of the game, including the Windows Phone version which was released just a few days ago. Experts often cite Final Fantasy III as one of the most tide-turning games in the Final Fantasy franchise, and the whole J-RPG genre, but to this day, the original Famicom version remains in total obscurity from the masses.

This reproduced cartridge of a fully translated game goes for $80 (about 60 €) on Timewalk Games, an independent group of developers, who literally make these games out of scratch, and deliver them ultra-quickly, much faster than they modestly tell you. Even the paint on the cartridge has not properly dried yet! The game works on the first try. The English translation of at least this game seems picture perfect, and every bit of physical material attached is of great, 95% authentic quality. I definitely recommend Timewalk Games! This copy of Final Fantasy III might not be an official product, but it sure looks like one, and with its arrival I consider my Final Fantasy main series collection complete. Here it is:

Plus the "bonus material" I've attained thus far.
So, for all you nitpickers out there: if the sequels to Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII count as "main series games", so should Dirge of Cerberus which is there as "bonus material", and in that case I'm also missing four games; Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings for the DS, Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII for the PSP, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years for the Wii, and a copy of the original Final Fantasy XIV for the PC. Yeah, they count, you're right, and I have no way to defend myself from the public here. You can probably still agree with me on the fact that I've come a long way in just a few years, here. Give me a few more and I'll show you what's what; remember that the games pictured above were my main priorities, 'cause I own the necessary hardware for each and every one.

The first game reviewed in 2014 will be one of those games, in honour of my lifelong mission as a gamer to collect every piece of Final Fantasy history there is. There ain't a lot of options, 'cause out of those 19 games (and one movie), I've reviewed all but five. I've already decided on the game and I think it'll be one epic kickoff for the year, regardless which one it is. I've always been fascinated by this series, but now I think my fascination with it is on a whole new level.

As for the Marvel marathon, I'm really trying to pick up the pace with that as soon as I'm done with this epic journey... but it will change a little. As you might've noticed, I have kept to certain patterns concerning the order of reviewing those games, and it has started to bore me (which might show, due to my improvisational and sometimes over-analytical writing style), and it has most likely started to bore everyone who reads this stuff. So, I'll shuffle the pack a little. The marathon will see a true end in the coming months, it will not be cut off - but don't be alarmed if the order of things changes a little. Totally unrelated reviews popping up, impromptu franchise switches within the Marvel universe etc., things you wouldn't necessarily expect from me (I'm a well-known neurotic when it comes to order and organization). It's all for a greater good. I still think taking on Marvel Comics was a fabulous idea, but in the beginning I had no realistic conception of how many games I actually had on my hands. Now that I'm this far, I can't stop. I've enjoyed myself, but trust me, once it's finished, I'm NEVER doing a marathon quite like this again. I've learned my lesson. Thank God DC Comics only has Batman to fuel my fire. :D

Wow, this rant turned out much longer than it was supposed to. Stick around for an epic 2014 start-up - it'll take some time, perhaps even a week, but I think it'll be a good one. In every sense. It's something I've never done on this blog before, you could say it's a whole experience and challenge to me, as a gamer AND a critic - even a rebirth of sorts, to be even more dramatic. Perfect for starting off fresh. I think I've said too much here, already, so just... stay tuned.

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