New Game Releases 11/23/21 – 11/29/21

Phew, looks like the game companies are taking a bit of a break this week for Thanksgiving and I am so down with that after a crazy last few weeks. Still, though, the notable titles are pretty massive releases, including one of the most popular video games of all time (Minecraft), a highly influential JRPG (Final Fantasy II/IV), and one of Miyamoto’s weirdest creations that was just one of a string of brilliant titles that would populate the GameCube library (Pikmin). If nothing new does it for you then maybe celebrate the notable titles by giving one or more a look this week, all are available fairly easily, well, maybe not Pikmin. Read on!

 

Top Releases:

Death’s Door (PS4/PS5/Switch) – Releases Nov. 23rd

First released on PC and Xbox back in July of this year, my description of the game was, “Hey, bro. You like Dark Souls? Tight. You like indie games? Tight. You like games published by Devolver Digital? Hella tight. Check out Death’s Door“. Yep, I think that still stands. Oh, and a bunch of outlets have been calling this one of the best games of the year so, like, maybe check it out.

Disney Classic Games Collection (PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Nov. 23rd

Originally released in October of 2019, this new version of the compilation comes with a few new games. The biggest addition is The Jungle Book for SNES and Genesis, while the other new game is the SNES version of Aladdin, as the collection previously had only the Genesis version. On top of that, there’s apparently a bunch of new content in the “making of” section. There’s good news for owners of the original release, the extra games and content can be purchased as a standalone expansion.

Asterix & Obelix: Slap them All! (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Nov. 25th

The famous French comic Asterix has had multiple video game adaptations over the years, dating all the way back to the Atari 2600. Their games would release on practically a yearly basis in Europe, while over in North America we would only get one every few years or so. Now, however, the loveable duo seem to have found an audience here in the States and we’ve had a new title come out every couple years since 2016. That might seem like a lot, but that’s still not ALL the Asterix games Europe has received in that same amount of time.

 

Expansions:

Hearts of Iron IV: No Step Back (PC) – Releases Nov. 23rd

Are your dad and uncle getting starting to make everyone feel uncomfortable during Thanksgiving dinner with their opinions on the Kyle Rittenhouse trial? Let them know that Hearts of Iron IV has a new expansion out and that they should totally go play it in the computer room.

 

Everything else:

Text.

  • My Universe: Interior Designer (Switch) – Releases Nov. 23rd
  • My Universe: Puppies and Kittens (PS4/Switch) – Releases Nov. 23rd
  • Tunnel of Doom (PC) – Releases Nov. 23rd

 

Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:

Minecraft (PC) – Released Nov. 18th, 2011: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: The ArtistStarring Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo
Notable Album Release: Hot Chelle Rae – Whatever

Most weeks the notable video games are just kind of your typical, run-of-the-mill hits that people fondly remember from a certain period in their life. However, every now and then we get to talk about a game that is not only fondly remembered, but would revolutionize the entire industry. There are the games like Donkey Kong, Grant Theft Auto III, Pac-Man, Final Fantasy, etc., the groundbreakers. This week’s ten year old title is not just a groundbreaker, it is probably one of the most popular games of all time, a cultural touchstone for millions of young adults who likely grew up playing it; Minecraft. While the official release date of Minecraft is Nov. 18th, 2011, the game was actually first released in May of 2009. The game’s creator, Markus “Notch” Persson built the game after creating several earlier prototypes. He was influenced by the 2006 title Dwarf Fortress, a simulation game in which players would construct a town for a group of Dwarves and defend them against attack marauders. Dwarf Fortress had incredibly simple graphics, looking more like an early 1980’s DOS game than everything else that was out on the PC market. Persson took the idea of building bases and translated it from text based graphics to an isometric view, and then tried to add a first person mode, but he couldn’t get the look right. Then in April of 2009 a game called Infiniminer was released by the company Zachtronics. In Infiniminer, players would move around a blocky world, mining for resources and then use those resources to craft items and build structures. If it sounds a lot like Minecraft, that’s because it’s pretty much the same game. However, the team at Zachronics didn’t really maintain the game and it fell into obscurity. Persson, however, saw the game and it had the exact look he was trying to make for his building/mining game. With the look he wanted now firmly in his mind, Persson got to work on updating his prototype game, something he would call Minecraft.

After releasing a video on YouTube that showed off gameplay footage, Persson would finish coding Minecraft over a single weekend before uploading the game to the TIGSource Forums, a place for independent game developers to show off their work and for fans to play and discuss them. Persson would make adjustments to Minecraft over the next several months, taking in player feedback, before releasing the first major update in June of 2010. By that time Persson was also able to quit his day job as a programmer for the company jAlbum.net as sales of Minecraft continued to rise month over month. With this new revenue stream Persson was also able to create his own company, Mojang Specifications (later to Mojang AB). Joining him at Mojang was a former colleague from his time at King, Jakob Porser, and the CEO of jAlbum, Carl Manneh. By this point Minecraft was still in alpha, then by the end of 2010 it would move into beta before it’s official launch in November of 2011. By this point, Minecraft had already sold 4 million copies, and Persson would eventually end his involvement with Minecraft in December of 2011, handing things over to another programmer at Mojang, Jens “Jeb” Bergensten. While the base game is Persson’s creation and idea, if you’ve played Minecraft in the last ten years then you have been engaging in content and ideas that Bergensten and his team are responsible for, and it is arguably their talent that has made Minecraft such an enduring and lasting product.

We’re three paragraphs into this thing and I haven’t even told you what you do in Minecraft. Okay, do I really need to? Is there anyone out there who is completely oblivious to what Minecraft is? Maybe there are, so here’s a quick breakdown. Minecraft is a first person, 3D sandbox style game in which players mine resources and then use them to craft new items and build structures. Everything in the game (for the most part) is made of of 3D cubes, or blocks, which players can break apart and hold in their inventory. As you collect blocks you can then place them in the world to create just about any structure you can think of, kind of like a virtual LEGO set. You can build a house, your school, the entirety of Disneyland, the Eiffel Tower, whatever you can imagine. Unlike The Sims, there are no goals in Minecraft, only the limits of your own imagination. There are enemies, however, zombies, spiders, skeletons, and of course creepers, that will attack your character if you stay outside during the night, prompting players to quickly build a structure or hide underground for safety. There are various modes you can choose from, including an Adventure Mode that does feature quests to complete, but the real fun of Minecraft is just messing around with your friends and building stuff. Part of Minecraft’s lasting appeal is that it can be played online with friends or strangers. You and your buddies can build together, hunt creepers, go swimming, play tag, play hide & seek, and goof off to your heart’s content. Minecraft is all about the joy of existing, and the more you play the more you begin to understand that concept.

Critics were overwhelmingly positive towards Minecraft, praising creative freedom it gave players and for its simple controls. The game is heavily geared towards the non-gamer while at the same time it is also perfect for the hardcore gamer, it’s really a game for anyone and everyone. Critics noted that everyone’s Minecraft experience would be different, and it was those different experiences that made the game so memorable to anyone who had played it. Some critics were turned off by the graphics, and others thought the game felt incomplete, but that didn’t stop Minecraft’s meteoric rise. By 2012 it was the 6th best selling PC game of all time, eventually becoming the best selling PC game of all time in 2014. That same year, sales of the game across all platforms (which included PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, and iOS) reached 60 million copies, making it the best selling video game of all time. Today, as of April 2021, Minecraft has sold 238 million copies. If you haven’t played it, you know somebody who has.

As far as accolades go, Minecraft was selected to be part of the Smithsonian’s The Art of Video Games exhibit, while it was still in the beta phase. At the 2011 Spike VGA’s it would take home the Best Independent Game award, and its subsequent releases on various other consoles would lead to nominations over the following years. It has since been listed among the great video games of all time by different gaming outlets, and has been nominated for Favorite Video Game three times at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, finally winning it in 2020. In 2019, The Guardian called Minecraft the best game from the first two decades of the 21st century, while Polygon and Forbes would both call it one of the most important video games of the decade (2010’s). Then in 2020, only nine years after its official release, it was inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame. Along with a slew of other titles from the late 2000’s, Minecraft helped light a powder keg underneath an already blossoming indie game revolution, and its alpha/beta rollout helped popularize the “early access” mode that has become so ubiquitous among PC gaming. Minecraft’s popularity is often attributed to a rise in social media usage, particularly with children and YouTube, where the game was responsible for launching the careers of many “Let’s Play” YouTubers. The game has been referenced in several other video games, including The Binding of Isaac, Torchlight II, and Borderlands II, as well as shows like South Park and The Simpsons. Perhaps the biggest place for Minecraft to appear has been in Nintendo’s popular fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with the game’s player character “Steve” being one of the selectable fighters.

In 2014 Persson began to feel the strain of running a highly successful game and casually tweeted out if anyone was interested in purchasing Mojang. After fielding offers from Activision and EA, it was Microsoft who would become the lucky owners, plopping down a cool $2.5 billion for the company. The original three employees, Persson, Porser, and Manneh, would all leave the company (filthy rich), and anyone who stayed at Mojang from before the acquisition would receive a $300,000 bonus if they lasted six months. Despite being the face behind the game for nearly five years, Persson would eventually be ostracized due to controversial remarks he would make on Twitter decrying feminism (calling it a “social disease”), supporting the idea of a “heterosexual pride day”, saying he supported the idea that it is “okay to be white”, and that privilege is just a made up metric. I hate to end on a down note, so let’s just go back to why we’re here, the love of video games and what they can do to make our lives more enjoyable, and in the best of cases can find a way to bring society closer to one another. Persson might have views most of us don’t agree with, but his germ of an idea, later made even grander by Jebs and the team at Mojang, has given millions of people around the world the ability to play in any way that want, expressing themselves in the most free way they can. That’s a legacy it can be proud of.

Pikmin (GameCube) – Released Dec. 2nd, 2001: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: In The BedroomStarring Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Stahl, and Marissa Tomei
Notable Album Release: Ludacris – Word of Mouf

Players can always count on Shigeru Miyamoto to deliver a memorable experience. By 2001, the famed Nintendo developer had been responsible for the biggest titles in video games, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, so it was expected that the maestro would have a killer game lined up for Nintendo’s newest machine. While most would have expected it to be a new title in the Mario franchise, what we got instead was a brand new IP called Pikmin in a genre he had never worked in before; real time strategy. To discover where Pikmin came from, we need to go back to the year 1997 and the rumors of a Super Mario 64 sequel, referred to as Super Mario 128. Initial rumors had Super Mario 128 as one of the titles for Nintendo’s 64DD expansion for the N64, and that it would contain a multiplayer aspect, with up to four players on screen at once. Miyamoto wanted to create a Mario game in which the titular hero would be able to walk around on a 3D sphere, in space (an idea that would obviously lead to Super Mario Galaxy). Due to technical limitations on the N64, Miyamoto’s sphere game would be moved to the GameCube, with its first appearance at Space World in 2000. Billed as a tech demo for the GameCube, Super Mario 128 showed a large 2D Mario spawning several smaller 3D Mario figures, until 128 were on screen. The developers controlling the game would manipulate the 3D disc board that the Mario figures were running around on, spinning and flipping it. What does all of this have to do with Pikmin? Well, it turns out that the proposed Super Mario 128 would never actually become a reality, instead all of its idea would be shopped out to other games including (you guessed it) Super Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime, and, of course, Pikmin. In fact, Pikmin took the most from the demo, with Miyamoto saying in 2007 that “The one question I’m always asked is, ‘What happened to Mario 128?’ … Most of you already played it … in a game called Pikmin“.

Miyamoto’s original idea for Pikmin was to make it a “god game” in which players would observe an “Adam & Eve” style couple as they lived their lives in a prehistoric world. You would give them commands and make either love or hate each other, eventually having children together who would form a village. As the village grew you would be able to control these characters and have them explore the wilderness, using them to attack giant creatures and collect resources. As the team played through their initial prototypes they found that while it was fun to control the characters, there lacked a sense of purpose. It wasn’t until one of the programmers came up with a way for the villagers to carry large objects in unison that the team was able to figure out the direction of the project. Ultimately, Pikmin would no longer center on God, Adam, Eve, and their descendants, instead it would shift focus to an alien who crashes onto a strange planet full of exotic locations and nasty creatures. Cue Captain Olimar.

While on vacation from his home planet of Hocotate, our hero Captain Olimar finds himself in distress after his rocket ship, The Dolphin, is hit by a meteor and badly damaged. The Dolphin begins to plummet towards an unknown planet, pieces of it breaking off into the atmosphere and scattering all over the place, as Olimar passes out. Once Olimar regains consciousness he discovers that his ship has crash landed onto the planet’s surface and is badly damaged. Measuring at only one-inch high, Olimar is in grave danger of being devoured by the giant creatures that populate this planet but, luckily for him, he comes across a group of strange little creatures called Pikmin. Olimar is able to command the creatures and use them to fight off the hungry creatures and, due to their incredible strength, he is able to use the Pikmin to help carry back pieces of his broken ship. However, violent critters aren’t his only problem, the atmosphere of the planet is made up of Oxygen, a deadly poison to him. Olimar only has 30 days worth of life support before it runs out, and with 30 pieces of his ship missing he won’t have any time to spare in order to fix his ship and get home.

Pikmin received overwhelmingly positive reviews when it released, with GamePro even granting it a perfect score. During awards season it won the BAFTA for “Interactivity”, an award that I can’t find any information on about what it actually means, but I’m sure it is very impressive. High praise was given to Pikmin’s creativity and originality, as well as its stunning graphics, with its backgrounds being called some of the best in all of gaming up to that point. Players were taken with Pikmin as well and the would eventually go on to sell over 1 million copies. A sequel would release in 2004, while an updated version of Pikmin would release on the Wii that featured motion controls (to mixed reviews). This version would also release on the Wii U as a digital download, and then a third entry would release on Wii U before being ported to the Switch. Pikmin has a loyal and devoted fanbase, and Captain Olimar would become another staple in the family of Nintendo characters, even appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series. Pikmin is quirky, irreverent, and full of so much joy and imagination. Despite how poorly the GameCube would do, it’s early titles showed off just how marvelous the system and its library would be.

Final Fantasy II (IV) (SNES) – Released Nov. 23rd, 1991: Wiki Link
Final Fantasy Adventure (Game Boy) – Released Nov. 1991: Wiki Link
Final Fantasy Legend II (Game Boy) – Released Nov. 1991: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: The Addams FamilyStarring Raul Julia, Angelica Huston, and Christopher Lloyd
Notable Album Release: Michael Jackson – Dangerous

I feel like every time I discuss a notable JRPG in this column I continually find myself saying, “despite how popular they are now, back in the late 80’s/early 90’s JRPG’s were still only catering to niche market, but THIS one helped push the genre forward“, and so, yes, back in the early1990’s the JRPG market was still only for a niche group of players, but Square’s Final Fantasy II on the SNES did help push the genre forward. Widely considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time Final Fantasy II, or as it was known in Japan (and is known today) Final Fantasy IV, was able to take ideas presented in earlier JRPG’s, of course Final Fantasy I, II and III, but also ideas presented in rival series Dragon Quest, and expand them into something larger and grander. The power of the Super Nintendo allowed series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and his team and Square to tell a grand, epic story, larger than any console RPG had been able to tell before. As I noted previously, while the game was known as Final Fantasy IV in Japan, in the West it was Final Fantasy II, this was because parts II and III had not left Japan at this point, so in order to keep confusion down, Square decided to number IV as II. Moving forward I will refer to the game by its Western title, Final Fantasy II, but I may occasionally say IV, I hope this isn’t too confusing.

Many of the elements introduced in Final Fantasy II are now considered staples of the RPG genre, such as the active time battle system, a large cast of unique characters that rotate in and out of the party, and grand, dramatic, stories. Initially, Square wanted to create two brand new Final Fantasy games simultaneously. Part IV would be another NES game while V would be for the brand new SNES, but this plan fell apart once it was seen as being financially unstable and would cause scheduling issues. The NES version was scrapped, despite being nearly 80% complete, but many elements from that game would make it into the SNES version of Final Fantasy IV. The game’s lead designer was Takashi Tokita, a part-time artist at Square who had previously worked on Tom Sawyer, SaGa (Final Fantasy Legend), and Rad Racer II. Final Fantasy II would be his first full-time job at Square, so I’m sure there was a ton of pressure on him. Initially the game had a co-lead, Final Fantasy III’s lead designer Hiromichi Tanaka, but his ideas were a bit too radical for the Final Fantasy series, as he wanted to remove random, turn-based battles and instead have them be fought in real time, without the need for having to navigate several menus. While those ideas would not be a good fit for Final Fantasy, they would blossom into another classic Square RPG, the sequel Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana. Knowing how important Final Fantasy II would be for Square, Tokita ended up devoting much of his time to the project, working long hours and contributing in just about every department, including designing many of the sprites. Looking to the series’ past, Tokita wanted to pull in ideas from each of the previous entries; from the first Final Fantasy they would incorporate the importance of the four elements, from FFII they would put a greater focus on the story, and from FFIII they would use elements of the job system (although I don’t know in what way, as characters don’t change jobs. Maybe just because they have assigned jobs…whatever). With the design locked down it was time to incorporate the story, co-written by Tokita and series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi.

Final Fantasy II takes place on Earth, or the Blue Planet. When the game opens we find ourselves on an airship, part of the Red Wings fleet, commanded by the Dark Knight Cecil. They arrive at a small town of magic users called Mysida and steal a crystal that they hold to be sacred. Cecil brings the crystal back to the kingdom of Baron, but when he questions why Baron is doing this he is stripped of his rank and sent on what he thinks is a menial task of delivering a package to a nearby village. What he doesn’t realize is that the package is a bomb that destroys the village, killing everyone except for a young girl named Rydia. Cecil, and his friend Kain, try to talk to the girl but she summons the monster Titan, creating an earthquake and separating the two friends. Cecil awakens to find Rydia badly injured. Taking her to a nearby inn, the two are attacked by Baron soldiers who demand Cecil hand Rydia over. Refusing to do so, Cecil defends the girl and she joins him on his quest. From there Cecil meets several characters who come in and out of the party. There’s Rosa, the White Mage/Archer who is in love with Cecil. Tellah, the Black Mage who is searching for his daughter. Edward, the Prince of Damcyan, a Bard who is in love with Tellah’s daughter. The young twins Palom & Porom, mages from Mysida who aid/spy on Cecil. Yang, a Monk from the town of Fabul, who’s wife is deadly with a frying pan. Cid, a respected airship builder and engineer. Another prince named Edward who prefers to be called “Edge” (he’s also a Ninja). Finally there is Fusoya, guardian of a race of beings called the Lunarians who live on an artificial moon that orbits Earth. I won’t go into every plot detail, but the general story, you come to learn, is that an evil mage named Golbez is the one collecting the crystals in a bid to take over the world. Cecil, as a Dark Knight, will never have the power to stop Golbez, so he must climb to the top of Mt. Ordeals and become a Paladin. Of course there are other moving parts behind the scenes, including the REAL villain who has far worse intentions than just ruling the world. Final Fantasy II’s story is action packed, heartbreaking, thrilling, and suspenseful, and it pushed the envelope when it came to storytelling in video games.

Of course you can’t have a thrilling story without equally thrilling music, a task that composer Nobuo Uematsu found painfully difficult. Creating music on the brand new Super Nintendo was an excruciating exercise in trial and error. Uematsu and his team would spend hours at the office, often staying overnight, resting in sleeping bags and drinking tons of cola from nearby vending machines. The hard work and grueling hours paid off, though, as the soundtrack to Final Fantasy II is considered to be one of the greatest of all time. Uematsu has stated that he felt he could move beyond orchestral compositions with Final Fantasy II, and with its driving bass lines and rock & roll guitars, mixed with other classical wind and brass instruments, you can really feel the drive and power behind the music. The soundtrack is so beloved in Japan that the song “Theme of Love” is often taught to Japanese school children as part of their music curriculum. “Theme of Love” has been re-recorded and re-arranged multiple times, including in 2007, by Uematsu himself, to promote the DS remake of the game. The song even featured vocals for the first time, sung by artist Megumi Ida in her major label debut. Aside from “Theme of Love“, the entire soundtrack has been re-recorded/re-arranged multiple times, including multiple tracks being done in a Celtic style. The music of Final Fantasy II is just one of several parts that elevates it past other titles not only in the RPG genre, but in all of video games, and critics took notice.

In Japan, Final Fantasy IV received a score of 36/40 from Weekly Famitsu, the second highest score of 1991, falling to Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (more on that in April of 2022). Critics in the West called Final Fantasy II a revolution in gaming, with Nintendo Power saying it set a new standard of excellence for video game RPGs. It was called the best RPG of 1991 by EGM and it received a perfect score in GamePro, with the magazine saying they believed it would single handedly change the way all RPGs would play from now on. No longer could you get away with one dimensional characters who just hack and slash at monsters, you had to have substance now. Reviewing it two years later (for some reason), Sandy Peterson from Dragon rated the game as “excellent”, stating that the music and story were of the highest quality you could imagine. He was so moved and engrossed with the story that he compared it favorably to other literary fantasy classics such as The Lord of the Rings and The Man in the Iron Mask. He was impressed at how often your own player character, as well as all of the other characters, talked in the game, and felt like all of that dialogue helped the player get to know these characters better and allowed them to make deeper connections with them. He was, however, not impressed with the graphics or presentation, stating that A Link to the Past had Final Fantasy II beat in that category. Over the years, Final Fantasy II would often find itself on “Greatest Video Games of All Time” lists, typically in the top 10, if not top 5. A sequel to the game, called Final Fantasy IV: The After Years would release on Japanese mobile devices before coming West through Nintendo’s WiiWare service. The episodic game takes place 17 years after the events of the original game and tells the story of Ceodore, the son of Cecil and Rosa. For anyone looking to play the game today, well, if you want to play the original SNES version you are out of luck, as the only way to do that is through emulation or with a (pricey) cartridge. A version of the game was re-released on the PlayStation with Chrono Trigger as Final Fantasy Chronicles which you can play on a PS3 with either a disc or as a digital download. Another version was released on the Game Boy Advance which is, I think, the last time it was released with its original graphics. From there you’ve had a 3D remake that came out on the DS, a PSP version that went back to 2D but didn’t match the SNES graphics, and of course there are mobile ports. The most recent release was the Pixel Remaster for PC and mobile devices, but even that doesn’t quite match the look of the SNES version. Still, if you just want to experience the game then you have multiple, very easy ways to do so, and I hope you’ll give it a try.

Final Fantasy II is my favorite video game of all-time. I was eleven years old when I played it for the first time at my friend’s house in 1992, and I’ll never forget it. Up to that point in my life, I knew I liked video games. I would watch video game television shows, read video game magazines, and spend most of my free time playing them, but they were another interest. When I sat down in front of the TV in my buddie’s room and he turned on the Super Nintendo and I heard “Prelude” for the first time I felt something change inside of me. I had never heard a video game sound this beautiful before. When Cecil attacks the innocent citizens of Mysida in the opening scene, and then felt guilty about it, I had never known a video game could give me a character that suffered inner conflict (I didn’t even know what inner conflict was!). When Rosa walks into Cecil’s room as he’s lying in bed, and you can tell her feelings for him are there, and his feeling are for her, but he can’t face her because of his guilt, I had never felt any emotion like that in my life. As Cecil and Rosa alternate between being together and being apart, seeing them spill out their feelings to one another, it taught me what love was. There is so much death and sacrifice in this game, including one of, STILL, the most heart wrenching moments in all of video games (if you know, you know), at 11 I had never had to deal with death on any level, and Final Fantasy II had me weeping with sorrow over tiny, 16-bit sprites. I can’t listen to certain songs from the soundtrack without getting lumps in my throat because they remind me of sad moments in the game, or incredibly joyous ones, like the first time you fly the Enterprise and The Airship starts, I have goosebumps right now thinking about it. Final Fantasy II was the first time I ever felt like I could do literally ANYTHING and go anywhere. Its map was huge at the time, there were so many people to talk to and monsters to fight, and not even all the monsters were evil! To me, there’s life before Final Fantasy II and there’s life after Final Fantasy II. Before FF2, I only liked video games, but after, I loved video games. I am the person I am today because of the work of 14 people in Japan, and the localization team who translated it, thank you so much.

Hey, we’re not done yet! Not only did November give us Final Fantasy II on the SNES, but we got TWO FF games for the Nintendo Game Boy; Final Fantasy Adventure and Final Fantasy Legend II. Talking about Legend first, as you might recall, this series was called SaGa in Japan, with the second game called SaGa 2: Hihou Densetsu, which Google says means “Sad News Legend”. In the game, players choose one of eight playable characters and guide them on a journey to find their lost father, discovering a unique power along the way called “magi”. It plays similarly to the first game, with players making a four character party and engaging with monsters in random, turn based combat as they explore dungeons. Reception to the game was high, with many outlets calling it an improvement over the first game, praising its length, as well as its more “user friendly” features and gameplay. The game would get a few re-releases over the years, and was most recently released on the Nintendo Switch as part of the Collection of SaGa. Our other Game Boy title is Final Fantasy Adventure and, unlike FF2 and FF Legend II, Adventure is an action RPG, where players engage in real time combat, hacking and slashing at enemies as they explore a world map. As you might recall earlier, one of the original co-leads on Final Fantasy II had wanted to make an action RPG, and so he would go on to lead Secret of Mana. Final Fantasy Adventure is the first game in the Mana series, called Seiken Desnsetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden. Subsequent remakes would remove any references to Final Fantasy, however, as the Mana series would become its own, unique property. In FF Adventure, players embark on a Zelda style journey, leading their character from screen to screen, fighting monsters and collecting items. Your character, named “Hero” or “Sumo”, is a prisoner of the Dark Lord. He is able to escape, however, and begins a journey to stop the Dark Lord as he attempts to control The Mana Tree, an energy source that sustains all life on the planet. Funny enough, Seiken Densetsu was almost Square’s first RPG, but their ambitions got the best of them, as the game was massive and not near completion. Instead, retailers who had ordered copies of the game were instead directed to instead purchase copies of another new game, Final Fantasy. The game was well received by critics and players, selling nearly 1 million copies world wide. Critics enjoyed it, but thought it didn’t play as well as Zelda, complaining that it’s action elements didn’t mesh well with its RPG elements (it would be perfected with Secret of Mana). This was a wild month for RPG and Final Fantasy fans, and I’m sure November of 1991 changed the course of many people’s lives, all because on these three games.

 


Andy Tuttle
Andy Tuttle

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