Final Fantasy VII Remake (Review)

**Possible spoilers ahead**

Final Fantasy VII is an RPG that was originally released in 1997 for the PlayStation. It’s the seventh full instalment of the Final Fantasy series that dates back to 1987 when Final Fantasy was released on the NES.

This instalment follows main character Cloud Strife, a mercenary employed by an eco-terrorist group named Avalanche to stop a world-controlling corporation from using the planet’s life essence as a power source for the city Midgar as well as other towns and locations throughout the game.

When this game was first released back in 1997, I remember my brother buying it and us spending hours playing it. This was possibly the biggest game I’d ever played up until that point, and I was drawn into the story from the very beginning.

In a previous blog, I stated that along with other games such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Skyrim, Final Fantasy VII is one of my most played and favourite games.

At the time of its release, FFVII was one of the most beautiful games I’d seen, and the cutscenes blew me away. I know, if you look at them now, they seem a little dated, but they still look pretty great.

Anyway, FFVII was recently remade into an even more epic and beautiful game.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (what an original title for a remake, eh?) was released back in 2020 and was a game that I couldn’t wait to play. However, I only recently bought a copy of it and got to play it for one reason or another.

During its pre and post-release, I did my best to avoid anything about it (other than the demo). I’d heard things like “it wasn’t the full game” or “the story had changed”, and I didn’t want anything to ruin my own experience of a game that I love being remade.

So a few weeks ago, I finally got a copy and started to play it. I’d previously played the demo, so I knew how the combat worked and what the first 30-40 minutes of gameplay would be like.

During this demo, I couldn’t help but compare it to the beginning of the original, and I was impressed with just how well it had been done. Yes, it changed certain aspects – like the combat mechanics going from random turn-based encounters to real-time – but I found these just brought the game into this new age. It did away with some of the original’s clunkiness and made it feel more streamlined and clean, and I was there for that.

The further you get into the game, you start to see other changes to the story; for example, side characters such as Biggs, Wedge and Jessie all get a more significant role, and you get to see more of the story in relation to these characters. I found this a great addition as it just added that little bit extra to the story.

The other thing that the remake has that the original didn’t is quests.

At certain parts of the game, you have a little bit more of a free-roam ability (in the original, when you were in Midgar, it was pretty linear.). This too, added that little bit more to the story, allowing you to find out more about certain characters and really feeling the plight of the citizens of Midgar’s slums.

If you were used to the original turn-based random encounters, the new combat system takes a little bit of getting used to. It all happens in real-time (aside from the pauses when you’re selecting an ability or spell), and this seems to make the battles feel a little faster and less clunky – there’s that word again… For me, the removal of the random encounters was a good thing. Back in the day, I would get really annoyed when – having just come out of a battle – you get thrust into a fight without time to heal up or sort your gear out. Over time, this system just wound me up and marred what otherwise would have been a perfect playing experience.

As far as main characters go, you’ve got the standard Cloud, Barret, Aerith and Tifa, but the thing that confuses me is when you get to the part of the game where you meet Red XIII, you can’t control him. Of course, he’s with you in battle, but as an uncontrollable AI character. I’m not sure why they made him this way, I for one, I was looking forward to controlling him as he was one of my favourite characters from the original. I just hope that when it comes to the other characters you meet along the way – Yuffie, Vincent, Cait Sith and Cid – that you get to add them to your team and play as them. I’ll be disappointed if not.

The magic system is very much the same. You pick up and equip materia to your weapons and accessories so you can use them in battle. One of the differences with the summons is that you only have the chance to use them in bigger battles and only when a bar that appears on screen has been filled. The big difference comes with the summons. In the original, the summons were a spell that was cast and did a single move doing a lot of damage. In the remake, though, the summoned entity joins you in the fight, and as well as doing automatic smaller attacks, you have the chance to perform extra attacks using the action via the ATB menu. Once the bar on screen has ticked down, the summon will leave the battle, but not before doing their main move for ample damage. I feel like this system does work, although, like other changes to the original, it takes a bit of getting used to.

I said at the start that it’s not the whole game, and that’s true. You play the game, up until the point where – on the original – you’d be asked to change discs, which kind of makes sense. Even though it’s not the full game, you still have hours and hours of gameplay, plus the ability to replay chapters should you want to.

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed Final Fantasy VII Remake. It does build on what was already an incredible game and provides you with more background to the characters and the ability to walk around and explore different areas. I’m interested to see what happens with part 2, whether they allow you to explore the map as in the original or whether it will be a bit more closed off. Either way, I look forward to how it’s done, especially when it introduces some of the higher level summons.

I have no option but to give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. It’s just brilliant, and despite only being a part of the game, it’s well worth it, and I honestly can’t wait for the next instalment. I highly recommend this game, whether you’re a fan of the original or not.

A Link to the Past

This morning I started playing the Final Fantasy VII remake, and it got me thinking about how much time I put into the original when it first came out. I also started to think about other games that I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing, games like Skyrim or Sim City. But the game that I think I’ve played the most is probably my favourite game; The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

I can’t remember when I first played it, but I was only young when it was released back in 1991, and we probably bought it not long after.

The SNES was one of the first consoles that we had after the original NES, and I spent hours playing the likes of Super Mario and Street Fighter II. Although I wasn’t very good at either, I still put the time into learning how to play.

When A Link to the Past came around, I’d never played a game like it before. It was one of the first open-world games that I played, and I was hooked straight away.

I can’t pinpoint exactly why I got so into it. I just remember loving the graphics, the combat and -later in the game – teleporting to a different world, I also loved the fact that it game with a game map – a map that I blue-tacked to my wall and that hung there for years. I would spend hours in Hyrule slashing my way through enemies and bosses. It took me quite some time to finally finish it, and I didn’t give up until I did. But that wasn’t the end of it.

With ALTTP, there aren’t the same story choices as you get in games these days. It was pretty linear despite being open world, and if you finished it once – other than going back and getting the upgraded gear – there really wasn’t anything else to do. But after I finish and put it down, moving on to something else, I still wanted to go back and replay it.

We got rid of the SNES – for some reason, I can’t fathom – many years ago. And when I bought another one when I started to gather my collection of retro consoles, ALTTP was one of the first games that I had to get, and when I played it, I felt the same joy that I did when I was younger – although this time it took me a fraction of the time to finish it.

I said at the start, this is the game I’ve probably put the most time into, and all that time culminates into probably finished the game around 25-30 times, and yet I’m still not bored of it.

When A Link Between Worlds came out on the 3DS, and I saw that it incorporated ALTTP into a new game, I couldn’t help but buy it. This too, I’ve finished a few times, although not as many as ALTTP.

When I bought the mini SNES when it came out, ALTTP was the first game I played. I honestly can’t play this game enough.

A Link to the Past will always have a place in my heart and mind. When I’m feeling less than great, it’s a game that I can always come back to. I don’t have to think about it all that much, but it gives my mind something to focus on when I can’t concentrate on anything else.

Although I’ve played the other Legend of Zelda games, none have stuck with me as much as ALTTP and – as much as I’ve enjoyed playing them – I don’t think any of them will.

Do you have a game like this? A game that you can keep going back to over and over? One that holds a special place in your heart for whatever reason? Let me know.

Moonlighter – Sales and Slashing (A Review)

Last year we discovered a new game; Moonlighter.

We watched a trailer for this delightful little dungeon crawling shopkeeper game and straight away we knew that it was our kind of game. It was reasonably cheap for a physical copy, so we went ahead and ordered a copy.

When it arrived, I was knee-deep in We Happy Few, and although I was really into it and wanted to finish it, (it had been on my ‘to-play’ pile for a long time), I couldn’t wait to get Moonlighter going. Luckily I could stick it in to install and still play We Happy Few for a bit.

Once it was installed I was in there.

When the game starts you find yourself in a dungeon – one that looks like it’s straight out of Zelda: A Link to the Past – you’re in control of the main character Will, and you have to fight your way through a few screens of enemies until you get overwhelmed. At this point, you’re unsure as to whether you’re supposed to fight or just give in so this bit was a cause of much confusion.

When you’re pulled out of the dungeon, you find out that you’re tasked with running your grandfather’s shop Moonlighter, but that Will harbours a secret yearning to become an adventurer and hero.

The way that the game separates the two tasks is quite good, by allowing you to adventure at night and then run your shop during the day – which you need to do, to earn money, to upgrade your gear so you can fight your way through the dungeons.

It’s such a simple premise when you think about it, but it works so well and is extremely enjoyable.

The shop bit is a fun addition to what may have been an average dungeon crawler. Not only do you sell the things you find in the dungeon, but you also have to adjust prices to customer demand and even do tasks for them. It’s all about fine-tuning your selling price and not flooding the market with a particular item. Oh yeah, and there are thieves you need to stop whilst your busy serving customers…bastards.

Along with upgrading your weapons and gear, you can also buy upgrades for your shop to allow you to buy more selling and storage space. There are also several upgrades for the town where your shop is situated, businesses like potion shops and blacksmiths that will help you along your dungeon adventure.

The dungeon side of things is all simple. There are 4 types of dungeons which have various kinds of enemies of varying difficulties. As you complete one dungeon by defeating the boss, the next one opens up to you.

Inside the dungeon, there are a total of 3 floors (including the boss at the end of the third) in which you need to get through. You don’t have to get through them all in one go as you gain a pendant that will allow you to save your progress, leave the dungeon, and then go back later. This is useful as the one thing that you can’t upgrade through the game is the size of the bag you carry that stores the items you pick up through the dungeons. This is good in a way because it makes you think about what you’re picking up and making space for the more valuable items, customer quest items, or things you need for the upgrades.

Throughout most of the game, you’re on your own in the dungeons. But there are eggs that you can pick up, that hatch a little buddy. This buddy will follow you around and help you fight enemies.

We enjoy a good trophy hunt and Moonlighter provides some fun trophies to get, some of them are a little on the hard side due to not being able to save and redo bits. In particular the ones where you have to kill the bosses without being hit; this requires a lot of practice, and another where you have to kill each boss by using your trusty broom for the last hit. The platinum may be just out of reach to all but the seasoned adventure, but if you’re so inclined it does add the extra playability after you’ve finished the main story.

Overall, Moonlighter is excellent. It’s not too taxing and is quite a good stress reliever with its retro graphics, slow pace, and soothing soundtrack. For the price that this game is, it’s well worth it and maybe a bit more. I would definitely give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and recommend it to anyone that asked.

Getting Creative with Lego

I’ve always enjoyed Lego. As a kid, I had two huge boxes full of the stuff (I still have these).

Many a time, I would tip the boxes out into a big pile on the floor, clear a space in the middle for me to park my butt and sit for hours making random things. Sometimes I would pick out an instruction manual from one of the many sets I had and make it. I liked to make the pirate and foreign legion bases, and the Robin Hood sets that I had. On the occasions when I would just build from my own mind, I never really built anything exciting, just things like houses and cars – I wasn’t an overly creative child.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve started to get a bit more creative with what I do. I’ve still on occasion bought a set – like the Ecto 1 from Ghostbusters for example. But mainly I’ve been able to create things either from my own mind or translate an already existing item or design into Lego.

By far, the best thing that I’ve created so far is my Lego table.

A few years ago, I had an item to transform an ordinary, boring IKEA table into something a little more “me.”

At first, I was looking at buying some pixel stickers – that I’d previously used to transform a wall into a mural of Godzilla and Space Invaders attacking a city – but as I was planning it, I couldn’t really come up with a decent enough design that I was happy with, plus I had trouble sticking them on straight, so it probably would have looked a bit crappy. But then, something else came to me.

The wall of pixels

Like a lot of the furniture at IKEA, the table that I’d bought felt very light, like it was hollow, and, spoiler alert, it pretty much was.

One day I took a hammer to the top of the table to find out what was really inside. Once I’d made a suitably large hole I found there was a mesh of thick cardboard that held the thin top layer up to stop it collapsing inward. After completely removing the top, and this filler, I ended up with a hollow frame.

I spent a few days designing what would go inside – using my favourite design programme, MS Paint – and buying the materials I needed – wood, glue, Lego base plates, and a hell of a lot of the single brick Lego pieces.

I started by doing a quick test with a single character to see how it looked. For this I chose Dizzy.

I measured and cut thin pieces of wood so I had a raised platform that the base plates could sit on, and then cut those to size too. Then the fun began, I started to create my design with the Lego.

My design was a collage of several characters from some of my favourite video games – mainly ones that I grew up with. You’ll see them all in the images below, but they included; Link, Kirby, Q*Bert, Yoshi, Dizzy, and Alex’s favourite Pokémon; Bulbasaur.

Piecing it all together was something I really enjoyed, on occasion I would run out bricks, so would either have to filter through my vast collection, or, if I couldn’t find what I needed, I’d have to buy some more.

In between doing this, I was painting the inside of the table black to match the outside, and measuring up for the glass top that I wanted and getting it ordered.

Once the Lego design was finished and I’d fitted and glued it onto its wooden mount, it was time for the glass top.

For the top, I wanted to be able to see the design, but for it also to be sturdy enough to be used as an everyday coffee table. I ordered from a site online so that it would be cut to the right size, but also have holes in it so I could screw it to the rest of the table.

All of the design and building took me just over a month, and I was thrilled with the end result. Now the table sits in the middle of our lounge, as a reminder to me that I can do things. Even when I hit a low point and think I’m useless, it’s something that shows me I’m not.

Over the past couple of years, Alex and I have made other bits and pieces from our collection of Lego – which is now sorted into its very own set of drawers by colour. Most things have ended up in the games room or dotted about the house, these include a Space Invaders “picture”, that will eventually end up on the wall in the new games room when we move, some Pokéballs and some Mario items (all pictured below). We also did a more “grown up” design, with a geometric pattern.

It’s been a while since we did anything with Lego so its probably about time we did something new. I’ve been trying to think of a new project similar to the table, but so far nothing has come to mind. I also considered making more tables and selling them, I just don’t know what the market would be like for them. If you think you’d have one, let me know so I can gauge the want for them.

Below are several images of the table along with the other things we’ve done.

Do you still do things with Lego? Are you more of a set person or a design yourself kind of human?

Also, can you name all of the characters in the table and where they’re from?  

Skyrim, Ho!

Yesterday was a bad day for hip pain. So, not feeling like I could concentrate on writing, we played Skyrim.

Skyrim is probably up there with Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Last of Us, and Mass Effect, for the games that I’ve played the most.

Yes, it’s buggy as hell. Yes, all the characters have 1 of 4 voices. Yes, it’s almost ten years old. But it’s a game that I can always go back to.

But now playing it through alongside Alex I’m learning that I’ve still missed a pile of things. How, after spending what probably amounts to months of playtime, have I missed so much?

My go-to fighting style is as a mage. What? I enjoy setting people on fire, okay. So, I’ve never really done all that much with the blacksmithing and by the looks of things I’ve missed out on some truly badass armour and weapons.

With our current playthroughs, we’re going for the platinum, because why not? So, we’re spending time wandering and getting everything we can. There are so many locations and quests that I’ve missed. I feel like I’ve never truly played the game and I’m playing it for the first time.

In my game, I somehow killed Lydia, Uthgerd the Unbroken kept being set on fire so we gave up reloading and trying to keep her alive and my follower is now the Jenassa. She seems to be faring a little better, so I’m hoping that she’ll stick around for a while. I don’t know if something has changed, but I don’t remember the followers being so easy to kill before, or maybe I just didn’t set them on fire as much…who knows.

The other thing we’ve seen in this playthrough is an increase in things that try to kill you. I mean, we’ve both had groups of three bears attack us, way more sabre cats, and we’ve even had 2 dragons attack at once, I mean what the f*ck?

Hopefully someday soon we’ll also be able to playthrough the VR version without the motion sickness setting in. It’s a game that screamed out for VR and it looks amazing and definitely like you’re actually there. Maybe if we do it in small stints we’ll be okay. But for now, we’ll keep working on the normal version.

Anyway, I’m back working on It’s All in the Eyes today. Current word count is 24525, and I’m on chapter 11. I still have no idea where it’s going until I write it, this method seems to be working for me, so I’m going to stick at it.

More updates on Friday. Maybe I’ll have killed Jenassa by then, perhaps she’ll survive. Who knows? It’s the mystery of Skyrim.

It. Is. Done.

I’ve finally just finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Although it took me a while to actually get round to playing it due to reason I said about in a previous blog I find that now I’ve finished it in at a bit of a loss and I really can’t wait for the sequel.

Breath of the Wild is a huge and extremely beautiful game, and the number of hours that I put into finishing it seemed to fly by.

Over my playthrough I did most of the quests if not all and all the shrines. These extra little dungeons really added that little bit different to the game. Although some are frustrating – I’m looking at you motion-controlled maze – they’re fun and also help towards buildup Link either in health or stamina, so they’re well worth doing.

I was almost tempted when I got the point of having done the Divine Beasts of rushing straight to Ganon but putting the time into the shrines gives a good pay off, plus you get a little something after doing them all that old-school Zelda fans will appreciate.

I wish I’d played it sooner now that I’ve finished it, but at least there’s less time between it and the sequel now. I just hope my Switch continues to work so I might actually buy it.

I would definitely recommend this game to anyone, lovers of Zelda games or not.

A Weekend with Zelda

It’s been an interesting weekend so far.

I woke up on Friday night and started to feel ill. I spent the rest of the night being sick and not sleeping, woo!

Yesterday I felt rough as anything so I wanted to play Resident Evil VII, but I didn’t think my stomach could handle it, so instead, I spent the day playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

I love Zelda games. One of my favourite and most played games is A Link to the Past on the SNES, so when BOTW was coming out, I was all over it.

For several reasons though despite getting it early on, and buying a Nintendo Switch mainly for it, I didn’t play it all that much.

First off my Switch was being a pain in the arse, I got so far into the game when it started to close ‘unexpectedly’. This was happening on everything I tried to play. I tried all sorts to get it to work and ended up having to send it off to Nintendo to get it fixed. It was back fairly quickly, but when I got it back I mainly played Pokemon Sword and when I finished that I kind of neglected the Switch. The few times when I tried Zelda again and pick up where I left my saved game, it would do the unexpected crash all the time.

We had the idea of creating a new profile on the Switch for me and begin again, which seemed to work. To test I deleted my saves from the original account restarted the game. Annoyingly it’s been fine.

I’ve blasted through BOTW over the past week or so and I’m now just mopping up bits and pieces before going to kick Ganon’s arse yet again – the guy just won’t take the hint that Link will always win…

One of the other reasons I couldn’t play it initially was that I just couldn’t get into it. I’ve played a ton of open-world games that are much bigger, but I just couldn’t get my head into it. There was just something about that my brain at the time couldn’t deal with, but now I’ve properly put some time into it, and I’m loving it.

I hope that the issues with my Switch are sorted, but even now I’m reluctant to buy any new games for it for fear that I won’t be able to play them, I guess I’ll just see how things go when playing the games I already have.

Over the past few weeks I’ve caught up a few games that have been on my to-play list for a while, and it feels good to finally play and finish things that I’ve had for years in some cases.

I will continue more next week, hopefully with RE7, before working on The Next Stage, of course.