Hey again! We’re entering day 7 of Obligatory Ice Level Day! Man, it’s only been a week and already we’ve gotten some sweet music and awesome guest content! You all are the best. We’re counting down to the Mario marathon on December 14th, when we’ll be raising money for the Make A Wish Foundation! Tune in for some awesome games and sweet prizes, like handmade wooden item blocks and a Wii U Deluxe! You know what RPGs need more of? Talking frogs with dog ears! And 40-year-old warrior women! And giant fish! And four-armed cats! And a ruler who joins in on battles! And a goofy kid hero who actually has a reason to act like a hero despite being a goofy kid! That’s why today’s ice level is Mount Vackel, from The Last Remnant!
The PlayStation era was arguably when Square Enix were at their creative peak. After the release of Final Fantasy VII, Squaresoft received a large amount of profit from the game and decided to use the money to finance a series of innovative projects unlike any other video game released at the time. This involved the company dabbling in genres that they had never been a part of before, and in most cases, redefining the genre. To list a few example; Bushido Blade is one of the rare fighting games to change the Tekken/Virtua Fighter engine through limb targeted attacks that adds a layer of strategy that is not present in any other fighting game (other than it’s sequel, Bushido Blade 2), Einhander took the R-Type model and transformed it into one of only two SHmups that incorporate a well told story into in gameplay to give an added incentive to see how the plot unfolds (the other being Radiant Silvergun). Despite other experiments such as Brave Fencer Musashi, Tobal 1&2, Front Mission and so on, Squaresoft were still contributing to the RPG genre through continuations to their ongoing series like Final Fantasy VIII and IX, Legend of Mana and Chrono Cross, Square will also willing to release new IP’s that later went on to become cult classics (Xenogears anyone?). It is also during this period that Squaresoft provided the Final Fantasy Tactics director Yasumi Matsuno enough money to create his dream project: Vagrant Story: One of the greatest RPGs ever made.
In my Panzer Dragoon Saga retrospective, I described the battle system as “cinematic”. This seems like a very vague term but its message is simple: to demonstrate exciting action in a way to excite the player. Video games have been trying to accomplish this for decades through general absurdity of the situation (Bionic Commando), interjecting huge exposition dumps to make the game more atmospheric (Metal Gear Solid) or even going as far as to creating levels which replicate those found in adventure movies (the Uncharted series). Even though this trend has been omnipresent ever since the original Donkey Kong, Squaresoft has long been considered the pioneers of this tend with Final Fantasy 7 being described as the first video game that make this type of narrative choice into a possible reality (whether this is true or not is debatable). The biggest advocate of this trend were Squaresoft themselves, who used the Playstation’s processing power to tell narratives ranging from love stories (FFVIII), light-hearted escapades (FFIX) to bizarre FanFiction! (Kingdom Hearts). While some claim that Squaresoft has sold out their company from making beloved heart warming games back in the SNES era to cut scene heavy boredom simulators (FFXIII), they shall forever be remembered as creating the most cinematic video game of all time: Einhander: Or how I learnt to stop worrying and have more tracking shots than an Antonioni film.
BUT NOT EUROPE! Ah-Hem, Squaresoft confirmed today that Xenogears, Vagrant Story, Legends of Mana and Threads of Fate will be released on NA PSN. The ESRB have rated the games for the PSP & PS3 which are usually the first sign of games being released with Sony Computer Entertainment America being the publisher. There are no confirmed release dates however there may be a chance this coincides with the PSN release of Chrono Cross which is being released in JP PSN (With a chance of an overseas release).
Just a couple of days away until Obligatory Ice Level Day! I’m excited. Hopefully you all get and give some great presents, especially if it’s just togetherness and cheer! And on that note, here’s a real special ice level. It’s the Ice Country, from Secret of Mana!
And hey, why not show off some of that ice magic in the screenshot too, right? Anyway, when the heroes enter the Ice Country, they run into none other than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Rudolph tells them that a monster has kidnapped his master, and begs for them to help. After a lovely romp through the forest and many fights with wolf-like Howler monsters, the crew has to deal with Boreal Face, a plant-like boss. After that, they could find Salamando and learn fire-based magic, which is pretty useful in ice levels. After that it’s time to visit the Ice Palace. Lots of stepping on switches, lots of slimes to battle, and lots of Tonpoles and Biting Lizards to beat as a mid-boss. Be careful, or the enemies will “frosty” you, which turns you into a cute little snowman. Eventually a voice tells the heroes to leave, but naturally they refuse. The voice belongs to the Frost Gigas, which is the palace’s boss. Of course the Frost Gigas knows powerful ice magic, so prepare to see lots of those cute snowmen. Anyway, after he’s defeated, the monster turns into… Santa Claus. Yes, you spent the whole fight beating up Santa. He explains that he wanted a mana tree seed so he could grow a huge Christmas Tree, but the seed turned him into a gigas. Fortunately the spell was broken with a good old-fashioned beatdown.
WALLPAPER! Yet another attempt to mimic the in-game artwork. The full version is here!
And REMIXES! Ice Crystal Fields Forever is a very soft, ambient version of A Wish, and it’s by Zeratul. CryFromTheForest is a beautiful mix that combines A Wish and Spirit of the Night, and it’s by Kassie and Mustin. Dirge for the Frosty Plains is by mp, and it’s a very calm, soothing mix of A Wish. Desert Snowstorm is an energetic take on Eight Ringing Bells and Secret of the Arid Sands, and it’s by Ziwtra. Secret of Spram (8 Bells Mix) is a fun little mix of Eight Ringing Bells, by JAXX, Kassie, and Mustin.
And of course let’s not forget my favorite mix of A Wish and Eight Ringing Bells: THIS ONE, done by Select Start for the Obligatory Ice Level Day soundtrack. Remember, Select Start will be playing at MAGFest 8, so if you’re attending, please go see them perform!
Yay! We’re almost through the backlog of these cartoons. Then I can simply bother everyone monthly or so instead of daily. Won’t that be great, kids?
Here’s The Big Whale, starring… a big whale. It’s a huge leap of logic to make that connection, I know. I originally made this just for fun, because I wanted to do a cartoon that did a lot with a little; I made this big, elaborate whale character and just focused on the fun of riding him around instead of working in some elaborate story. People seem to dig Giant Happy Space Whale. AS WELL THEY SHOULD.
TSG announced the date of their Final Fantasy marathon shortly after I made this, so I held onto it until then. I’m sneaky like that.
Stupid puns! Goofy attacks! Typos in the credits! This cartoon has it all. I always thought the statues in Final Fantasy 6 were kind of creepy. I mean they’re just standing there, but you know all the insane attacks and spells are coming from them.
So I destroyed all the creepiness by replacing them with a big cartoony sloth statue. Because that’s how I roll.