10. Derrezed – Daft Punk
When it was announced that Daft Punk was handling the Tron: Legacy soundtrack, people seemed to assume that we’d be getting a movie set to a Daft Punk album. Unsurprising (but still disappointingly) enough, the album was for the most part typical film soundtrack affair… slow, uneventful music that isn’t really enjoyable outside of the context of the movie. With one notable exception – “Derrezed.” This is the type of song that you’d expect to hear on a typical Daft Punk album. You know, the kind of album we all wanted this one to be.
9. Party Poison – My Chemical Romance
It sure took them long enough, but My Chemical Romance came out with another album this year. It’s got a much more lighthearted feel than their previous ones, and in this neat little track you can see that even without all the eyeliner and self-pity My Chemical Romance still knows how to rock.
8. ShowStopper -TobyMac
Even with some cringe-inducing lyrics, this song is good enough to trick anyone into listening to Christian Pop/Rap. There’s enough sounds thrown into this squeaky clean production that you’ll still be discovering new layers dozens of listens in.
7. Cooler Than Me – Mike Posner
Pop radio sucked more than usual in 2010, but Mike Posner restored my faith in humanity with “Cooler Than Me.” It’s a song I can equally imagine chilling out to or clubbing to. Because, you know, I do a lot of clubbing. On another note, that synth solo at the end is just… perfect.
6. The Catalyst – Linkin Park
Now here’s a song that everyone needed to listen to a few times before they realized they kind of liked the new direction Linkin Park is headed in. With a lovably awkward melody that gets better the more times you hear it and a climax where every element of the song fits perfectly together, “The Catalyst” is a rewarding listen to those with an open mind.
5. Sick of You – Cake
This musical middle finger is delicious as……… pie.
4. Watercolour – Pendulum
Pendulum is a group that can never decide on what kind of band they want to be. Drum ‘n bass? Alternative rock? Electronica? No matter which they dabble in, they always end up with excellence.
3. Telephone – Pomplamoose
Lady Gaga may have sung it first, but indie duo Pomplamoose took “Telephone” and made it truly great. After hearing this version, it’s hard to imagine that it was ever intended to be played differently.
2. Animal Rights – Deadmau5
On this track off his album 4 x 4 = 12, Deadmau5 proves that his music making abilities are much better than his math skills. “Animal Rights” is a delicious feast for the ears cooked with a scoop of house, a touch of dubstep, and a heaping dose of funky lead line.
1. WEEKENDS!!! – Skrillex (feat. Sirah)
The song that got me into electronic music with a kick drum that’s loud and a bass that’s wobbly. If you’ve yet to experience a drop into a crazy Skrillex breakdown, you’ve been missing out, my friend. I’ve been humming this song ever since I first heard it – and I’m not humming the vocal part either. I don’t know how to describe the sounds that start at 1:10… all I know is that they’re catchy as any good pop song and impossible not to nod your head to.
Welcome to a new series for Frayed Wire: “Stupid Parts of Great Games”, where I nitpick about some of the minor (and major) flaws of a beloved or classic game. And what better way to start than with the RPG with perhaps the biggest, most hot-headed fan base in existence? The angrier the comments, the happier I’ll be.
1. Deformed Arms
Final Fantasy VII may have been hailed for its graphics at the time it was released, but looking back at it today, they’re not exactly jaw-dropping. Sure, this is understandable when you consider that this came out in 1997, but one thing will never cease to annoy me – those unnatural, blocky character models.
When you’re in a fight or watching a cutscene, Cloud and co. look like normal human beings (or cat things… depending on what character we’re talking about). However, when you’re traversing the game’s environments (which is, by the way, most of the game), the polygon count of the characters is forced to take a drop, and you’re left with… things… that are deformed and wholly unappealing to look at.
What’s going on here!? Why is Cloud’s arm super skinny in the middle and then freakishly huge at the end? And what’s with the black tip? I mean, come on, does he have hooves or something!?
2. The Utter Annihilation of the Solar System? It’s All Good!
In the last boss fight of the game, Sephiroth can use an attack called “Super Nova” which sends a beam of energy through space, blowing up planets and eventually running into the sun, causing it to explode. In turn, the explosion consumes several more planets until making its way toward (Final Fantasy VII‘s equivalent of) Earth. Don’t get me wrong – it’s pretty cool. The only problem is that this attack makes no logical sense. What’s that? I’m looking too deeply into this? Shut up, this is what the “Stupid Parts of Great Games” series is all about.
Oh no! Not advanced calculus problems!
First and foremost is that Super Nova can’t actually kill you. It only takes away a percentage of your health. Read that again: this can destroy the solar system in one short 2 minute cutscene, but it can’t make a blonde-haired emo kid and his under-leveled companions even faint. Say what!?
Also is the fact that the game can still be finished after this attack is used. Sephiroth can die and everyone is happy, but I guess people around the world will have to get used to it being night 24/7 due to the fact that there IS NO SUN ANYMORE. At least they have electricity powered lights, right? Oh wait… maybe blowing up the massive Shinra power company wasn’t such a great idea after all…
Now some of you out there may be arguing that Sephiroth actually causes the Big Bang at the end of the attack, because it’s possible for him to use it more than once in the fight. But even if all these planets are resurrected, that doesn’t change the fact that they were completely wiped out a few minutes before. All life forms anywhere would have died in the first explosion (including those on Earth when the attack hits the ground and moves toward Cloud and everybody else). So even if the planets are brought back, the population still has to start again from scratch!
The only way out of this line of thinking that I can see is to say that all the same people who died were brought back to life in the Big Bang… but in that case, what would be the point of the attack in the first place?
I understand that there’s a lot of dialogue in Final Fantasy VII. However, that doesn’t make the typos any less funny.
No, this translator are not paying attention.
Final Fantasy VII had powerful and immersive dialogue? Off course it did!
Another one of my favorites is JENOVA’s only line in the whole game: “Beacause, you are… a puppet.”
A typo even showed up on the game’s box! If you had one of the first prints of the US version, the “i” in the word “masterpiece” on the back of the case was floating, causing it to read “masterp ece”. I wish I had a picture, but perhaps to the game’s benefit I can’t find one.
4. Aeris’s Death
The most memorable scene in Final Fantasy VII (and one of the main contributors to the raging fanboy devotion many people have for this game) is where Aeris gets killed by Sephiroth. She’s just kneeling on the ground when all of a sudden that white-haired pretty boy comes swooping through the air and plants his sword straight through her. Of course, Cloud and everyone else is there to see it happen, and they develop a new hatred for the game’s villain. It’s a turning point in the story and in some peoples’ opinions, one of the most shocking and tear-jerking plot twists ever in a video game. It’s also one of the biggest plot holes in the entire game’s story.
Let me explain.
Getting to this pivotal moment in the game takes hours and hours of playtime, many of which are spent in battles. Now anyone who has seen even one of these fights take place knows that the Final Fantasy VII characters don’t go down easily. They can be poisoned, burned, shot, sliced, or whatever by some crazy looking monster, but still have thousands of hit points left. Aeris is no exception – by the time she kicks the can, she’s seen her fair share of pain in battles as well. So now you’re telling me that she gets instantly killed by just one little poke from Sephiroth’s sword? She doesn’t even bleed!
Now maybe you’re thinking, “Oh, well, Sephiroth is more powerful than everyone else, so his attacks do a lot more damage.” Okay, but even if I entertain that cop-out answer, there’s still one glaring flaw in the plot:
Why can’t somebody just use a phoenix down and revive her!?
It works every time up until that point in the game! No matter how badly something overkills one of the characters, a phoenix down will always bring them back to life! Is there anyone who can explain to me why they can’t just quickly whip one of those bad boys out and save Cloud the trouble of dumping Aeris’s limp carcass into a pool?
I like to imagine everybody somberly walking away from the place, crying and whatnot. Tears streaming down his face, Cloud looks into his bag and sees a phoenix down. With everybody else looking at him, Cloud glances back at the pool and then back at his bag a couple of times. “FUUUUUUU-!!”
With Final Fantasy XIII recently released, I have taken it upon myself to write a review for this massive title. Little did I know how long it would truly take me to complete it. However, I will post my current thoughts and feelings about the game so far as well as a rough score.
For starters, Final Fantasy XIII is a beautiful example of what gaming should be, despite the complaints you may have heard. Square Enix has crafted an outstanding story filled with rich and detailed characters that you will grow to truly love. I myself am only 15 hours into the game and already feel a strong connection to each of the characters. It is also clear that Square DID in fact put some effort into avoiding traditional JRPG character archetypes, although you will still be able to recognize some very familiar ideas through the cast. They all have their own reasons for the actions they take and they are all believable.
Without spoiling anything, the story is also multi-layered and more is revealed about the characters through flashback sequences which take place in the thirteen days leading up to the beginning of the game. Each one reveals a little bit more about what is going on and how the characters got to where they were at the outset of the adventure. These scenes also reveal more about the different characters’ motives and what is driving them to do the things they do.
The gameplay feels like a natural extension of what a Final Fantasy title should play like in the current console generation. The combat is fast paced and visceral despite the fact that it is still turn based. Character development is no longer handled with simple experience points and levels gained. Instead, you are rewarded with Crystogenesis Points which can be used in the Crystarium to develop your characters’ skills in any of the character classes available to them. The system functions a bit like X’s sphere grid with some branching pathways and such. These developed classes are also used in battle and switched on the fly to determine how your fellow party members will act. This Paradigm system is also reminiscent of XII’s Gambit system.
The game’s linearity is also an oft-discussed point. Some love it, some hate it. My stance on it is that it won’t disrupt your enjoyment of the game. In fact, the past games in the series have only had the illusion of freedom. There was always a main path that one would have to take through the game and you would simply travel through an open world to get there. XIII simply discards this illusion and is more up front about what’s going on. The title is incredibly story-driven and the flow of the game follows suit. What it really boils down to is whether or not the linearity spoils your enjoyment of the game and I can safely say that after 15 hours I wouldn’t have noticed it if it hadn’t been discussed so intently before the release of the title.
Needless to say, the graphics are the best in the medium. Square Enix is always ahead of the curve with graphics technology and this game is no exception. The characters all look perfect and aliasing is simply nonexistent. The lip syncing has been completely redone for the Western release and the characters’ facial animations are simply perfect. The voice acting is also top-notch. The one character that I have heard complaints about, Vanille, is actually explained in the context of the story, although to say any more would spoil major plot-points.
All in all, Final Fantasy XIII is an outstanding example of why I play video games and has renewed my faith in this console generation which has been ruled entirely by mediocre and repetitive first-person shooters. Rest assured, this entry in the venerable series is among its finest and you should not hesitate to run out and pick it up.
Tentative Score: 9 out of 10
P.S.-I will update the review upon completion of the game, hopefully in 2-3 weeks. The score listed is what it will be if the game continues at the quality that it is currently at without doing anything to really make my jaw drop.
P.P.S.-It has been said that the game opens up quite a bit around the halfway point and that there are over 50 monster hunting sidequests to develop your characters but as I have not reached this point, I chose to leave it out of this piece of writing.
Landing this many is much harder than it looks
With a little imagination, you can make a video game out of nearly any concept. This fact is apparent in Dice Pile, a $1 Japanese app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Each of the three modes available all revolve around the same core concept – flicking dice onto a target to chain together combos and earn points.
In Score Mode, you receive 18 dice to flick, and each one you land on the target will add to your score. The number on your die is multiplied with the number assigned to the zone on the target. For example, the outside circles will multiply by 1 or 2, but the center will multiply by 5. When you land a die on top of another already placed die, the score will multiply further. By the time you’re done throwing your dice, you can have a ridiculously high score due to all the multiplying that takes place. This is, of course, only if you’re actually good at the game, which takes quite a bit of practice.
Chain Mode twists the gameplay just a little bit. Instead of having only 18 dice to throw, you have an unlimited number. However, you only have one minute before the game ends, so quick, accurate throwing is key. You can just wildly flick the dice and hope they land on the target, and if they do, you can reach a high score in no time. This isn’t always the best strategy though, because if you miss the target three times in a row, all the dice you landed disappear and you’ll have to start building your combos back from scratch.
The third and final mode is the appropriately titled Expert Mode. This works like Score Mode with a never ending supply of dice, except that you can only miss one time before it ends. To earn a respectable score in Expert Mode, you’ll have to hone your skills for quite some time.
Perhaps the biggest turn off to Dice Pile is the difficulty – even when you aren’t playing Expert Mode, you’ll find yourself struggling to get even a small score due to how precise you have to be to land the dice on the target. When you flick a die, there is hardly any room for error if you don’t want it to fly straight up or launch past the target. For a game that revolves around landing dice on specific parts of a target, it’s a shame that you feel like you have so little control over where you will place the dice. It’s difficult enough to find that perfect angle to land on the target, but it’s almost impossible to learn to aim exactly where you want to.
The dice themselves will bounce on other dice that have landed already. While this will sometimes be to your advantage, many times it causes the dice to be knocked into some far off place that you didn’t intend at all. The way the dice bounce doesn’t seem all that realistic either, since they stay at the same velocity no matter how many times they bounce this way or that, and also because of the highly unpredictable angles they will spring themselves.
Being a English language game developed by Japanese speakers, there are loads of awkward sentences and grammar mistakes, but none of them really make a difference. When I first start up the app and it asks me if I want to use “gamesounds”, I know what it means.
Dice Pile is the kind of app that might appeal to those who love racking up a high score and then working hard to beat it. There’s even a leaderboard system in place so you can see how you stand against the insanely skilled players who occupy the top spots. It’s obvious that this game is getting lots of love from some people (the info page claims that Dice Pile was once the #1 paid app in the Japanese Dice category of games, and even the #30 paid app in Japan in the much more general Game category), but I didn’t find myself getting into it all that much. I appreciate the game’s developers for sending Frayed Wire a free download code, but I can’t give an all-encompassing recommendation. Try one of the two lite versions first to see if it’s really your style. Who knows? Soon you too might be flicking dice like a champ.
Pros: Not bad for those who love earning and beating high scores, leaderboards, three different modes
Cons: Too hard to aim exactly as you’d like to, physics system is not perfect
Final Score: 6 out of 10
The horror genre of movies has seen a bit of a downslide recently. It has been abundantly clear as of late that horror movies are just not made without gratuitous amounts of gore and cheap scares. It is rare that a truly terrifying horror movie comes out to keep you awake without making horrifying creatures jump at the screen continuously.
Paranormal Activity is likely one the lowest budget films to hit theaters this year. It began and is still on a limited release, but this has not stopped it from transcending movies and making truly fear what you can’t see. The film follows a young couple who have recently moved in together as they encounter horrid and evil happenings in their new house. The girlfriend, Katie, has been plagued with this since childhood and her beau, Micah, finds this fascinating. He takes to document all of the paranormal activity with his camera equipment which serves as the viewpoint of the movie. This however, serves as my one picky complaint about the movie: it is presented as if they are home videos which were collected and compiled into this movie, but it still feels like a movie. One or two plot-points seem a bit too unrealistic to swallow; such as the inability to find another demonologist when the first one is out of town. However this small gripe should not detract from your enjoyment of the movie and some did not become apparent until the second time I watched it.
The characters are well rounded and believable, making their tale that much more frightening. They act and interact in realistic ways that will make you chuckle at points and sigh at others. The mocking attitude of Micah as he taunts the spirit is worth a few good laughs to break up the tension and the little squabbles that the couple has is easily relatable to real life. Most people can relate in some way to one of the characters’ behaviors, creating an unheard of level of immersion.
The scares in Paranormal Activity are more of a long-term commitment. There are only a handful of moments that will make you jump or scream, although it will make your jaw drop and spine shiver throughout. Violence is minimal and gore is practically nonexistent, but the terrorizing that the malevolent spirit does to the couple is affecting. Even the small occurrences will cause a loss of sleep as the story is told so convincingly, every viewer must ponder what they would do were they placed in this situation. You’ll leave questioning the lack of outright scares but still sleep with your lights on and double check your doors.
In closing, Paranormal Activity is an expertly crafted horror movie as well as simply an outstanding film. This rare gem should not be missed by any, horror fan or not. This is the horror film of the decade and should be celebrated for years to come.
Author’s Note: Paranormal Activity is currently on a limited release so be sure to check with your local theater before rushing out to see it.
Contrary to popular belief, I have not died. I have had chronic laziness combined with some tough classes. This post is merely saying that I have not died and I would like to offer my opinions on the current state of the video games industry (with side notes of course). Price drops are more “in” than Michael Jackson T-shirts. Every major home console has dropped their price recently. The most stunning and well timed was Sony’s. In addition to a new model, they made the PS3 affordable to a lot more people, including myself. I see myself in the near future purchasing a PS3 now. The 360 and Wii price drops seems like “me too” marketing, but necessary nonetheless. The Wii has a much higher crap to awesome rating than its two competitors combined, so it needed some sort of edge on Sony and Microsoft. Speaking of Microsoft, they seem to be inevitably tied to second place and they’ll continue to stay there unless Natal takes off, which I don’t think it will. Most people with a 360 viewed it as an FPS delivery system, not a way to play using your whole bodies. Well, that’s all I have to say, expect more posts in the future.
Hey, I’m Nate. I’ve been officially added as a new FrayedWire writer. Just a little introduction: I have the entire holy trinity (PS3/360/Wii) plus a PSP, DS, and gaming computer. I plan to roll out some of my past reviews for other sites this weekend but I take requests. So send me an email at email@example.com if you need anything. It’s great to join up and thanks, guys, for having me.