Final Fantasy

The 20 most fun PlayStation titles, as picked by Japanese gamers

Two decades ago, Sony had displayed about as much skill in producing video games as Nintendo had Hollywood movies. Sure, Sony had published games sporadically under its Sony Imagesoft brand, but it’s hard to build much consumer goodwill with such a small catalogue of titles, especially when most of said titles are terrible.

Then, on December 3, 1994, the company launched the original PlayStation. While the 3DO and CD-i of fellow electronics manufacturers Panasonic and Phillips would both end in ignominious failure, Sony would go on to slice itself a very large piece of the pie in its new industry, dominating two generations of console gaming and remaining competitive ever since.

Of course, hardware isn’t worth much without fun games to play on it. Thankfully, Sony’s systems had plenty of hits, as shown by a poll of Japanese gamers’ 20 favorite PlayStation games.

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Gamer newlyweds see eye-to-eye as they slice their wedding cake with Zelda’s Master Sword

There are two things that I think stand out as particularly memorable from my oldest brother’s wedding ceremony. One is the stuttering mess of a toast I gave as his best man. The other is that he and his wife cut their cake with an honest to God sword, since my brother, being a member of the Marine Corps, got married in his dress uniform, complete with Mameluke saber.

It definitely made for a much more dramatic effect than slicing up dessert with some puny kitchen knife, and you might now find yourself wondering how you could incorporate a similar idea for your own wedding reception. Thankfully, you don’t even need an official work blade, just a love of iconic video games, as demonstrated by the couple in Japan that cut their cake with the The Legend of Zelda’s Master Sword.

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Gorgeous animated video shows Hatsune Miku as designed by Final Fantasy’s Tetsuya Nomura

Given the massive success he’s since enjoyed as a video game character designer and director, it’s almost hard to remember how skeptical everyone initially was about Square Enix’s Tetsuya Nomura. When he stepped up to the plate as character designer for Final Fantasy VII, long-time fans were uneasy about his ability to fill the boots of predecessor and renowned artist Yoshitaka Amano. When Nomura announced Kingdom Hearts, a new series that would blend characters from Final Fantasy games and Disney animation, early reactions ranged from puzzled silence to nervous laughter.

Fast-forward 15 years, and Nomura has established himself as the single most influential person behind those two Square Enix franchises. As a matter of fact, his skills are now in so much demand that he’s produced his take on virtual idol Hatsune Miku, which was recently shown off in gorgeous animated form.

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Dressing up as Final Fantasy’s Squall for Halloween? You need this real-life gunblade 【Video】

Back at the start of the year, we all had the urge to go out and fight some monsters when we saw Hollywood blacksmith Tony Swatton recreate the massive sword wielded by Final Fantasy VII’s Sephiroth. Of course, Sephiroth is just one member of the gigantic collective cast of the long-running video game franchise. With so many more iconic weapons to choose from, it was only a matter of time until craftsmen went to work on armaments from the other games in the series, and next up is a real-life version of Squall’s gunblade from Final Fantasy VIII.

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We raid the new Final Fantasy restaurant on our quest for drinks, desserts, and blue ramen

Earlier this year, we stopped by Artnia, the café run by video game publisher Square Enix, to munch on buster sword chocolates and drink material cocktails. Just as you’d expect from the company behind some of Japan’s biggest RPG franchises, though, there’s now an upgraded sequel, the Eorzea Café, with an even larger menu of Final Fantasy themed foods.

Led by our sense of adventure and gnawing appetite, we journeyed to the strange and wonderful land of Tokyo’s Akihabara to check it out.

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Sony really, really wants you to buy an Xperia smartphone 【Tokyo Game Show】

Over the last few years, Tokyo Game Show has become increasingly focused on mobile gaming. This year’s show is one of the smallest to date, with noticeably fewer booths and even big-name publishers seeming almost reluctant to make too much of a fuss of their triple-A titles.

But it’s not just Gree et al pushing mobile gaming in Japan. Console maker Sony, too, is getting in on the action by putting the spotlight on its own smartphone line while doing all it can to show that mobile and traditional console gaming needn’t be completely separate entities, with the company setting up two enormous Xperia booths opposite its PlayStation area at Tokyo Game Show 2014.

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Video game giant Square Enix to launch game streaming service for iOS and Android in October

A complaint that some video game fans have with the current crop of mobile titles is their unambitious scale. Designed to played in short bursts, their aim is often limited to providing a way to enjoyably kill a few minutes of spare time, which can leave those looking for a more engaging experience feeling cold and uninterested.

But everyone who’s shunned mobile gaming for that reason might have to rethink their stance come October, with the launch of a new cloud gaming service from Square Enix, Japan’s most storied developer of grand adventures.

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Chubby Chocobo plush is as round as he is adorable

The slim, sleek Chocobo that populate the Final Fantasy world may be much better for covering long distances and racing, but as far as cuddling goes, Fat Chocobo might take the cake.

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Final Fantasy Tactics concert is coming to Tokyo, completely free, and needs volunteers

Even though the numbered sequels in the Final Fantasy video game series stretch all the way up to 14, there are actually far more titles than that in the franchise. One of the most popular spinoffs to Square Enix’s massively successful role-playing game is Final Fantasy Tactics, thanks to its deep customization, complex and unpredictable plot, and stirring soundtrack.

The strategy role-playing game has been entertaining fans for the past 17 years, and as testament to its lasting appeal, this summer a symphony orchestra concert will be held dedicated to the music of Final Fantasy Tactics. And best of all, it’s free.

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Fan makes awesome Final Fantasy art with just a screen door, ink, and a toothpick

Back in the heyday of Nintendo’s NES, video game hardware wasn’t advanced enough to handle the kind of polygon-based visuals that are the industry standard today. Instead, artists had to bitmap their characters.

Bitmapping involves laying down squares of color, called pixels, to form an image. It’s essentially a digital mosaic, and with enough time and dedication, you could perfectly recreate the cast of your favorite 8-bit classic using a sheet of graph paper.

Or, as one retro fan in Japan recently did, a screen door.

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Japanese netizens are ready to visit a Final Fantasy world, and you can go too!

RPGs like Square Enix’s Final Fantasy take us to faraway worlds with extraordinarily picturesque locations; places that couldn’t possibly exist on this planet. Mother Earth would have to be a scenery designer to create locales as visually stunning as RPGs do.

But Earth is a much stranger place than we can imagine, and some of the craziest “must be photoshopped” places turn out to be just the simple strangeness of our planet. Luckily for us, if you ever wanted to visit a place that would fit perfectly into a Final Fantasy world, Earth has you covered. Watch yourself when you stand up, because your jaws are about to be all over the floor.

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The Pope might just be a Final Fantasy character

After pictures of the Pope at the weekly General Audience were circulated online, internet users everywhere have noticed something peculiar: it looks eerily like the entrance of the last boss in a Final Fantasy game. If you don’t believe me, read on!

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Final Fantasy VII concert to be held in Tokyo this summer (yes, they’ll play One-Winged Angel)

When Final Fantasy VII was first released in 1997, gamers around the world emotionally connected with it in a way that had never been seen before. Years later, the game still occupies a special place in many people’s hearts, with many clamoring for developer Square Enix to release a version with graphics updated to today’s standards.

But even as so may ask for a new edition of the game that looks better, you won’t find anyone asking for one that sounds better, as the role-playing classic’s soundtrack is one of the most universally-loved musical collections to ever come out of the medium. As testament to its lasting appeal, a Final Fantasy VII symphony concert will be held in Tokyo this summer.

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Final Fantasy café puts spirits within you with materia cocktails, chocolate buster swords

With well over 20 years since the original Final Fantasy was released, everyone who was old enough to enjoy developer Square Enix’s hugely successful video game franchise from the very start is legally old enough to drink in Japan. So when we heard tale of a realm/café run by the company, called Artnia, where we could combine our passions for role-playing games and alcoholic beverages, we were intrigued, and when rumors reached us of chocolate buster swords, we were out the door.

Our journey took us through pitch black tunnels, subterranean cities, and secluded forests, but we persevered, and have returned to tell all of our adventures.

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You ain’t seen North Korean calisthenics ’til you’ve seen it done to Final Fantasy IV boss music

Every once in a while we experience pleasant beauty of synchronicity in life, whether it’s listening to Pink Flyod’s Dark Side of the Moon while watching The Wizard of OZ or just listening to The Police’s Synchronicity.

Another such case is the uncannily fitting combination of a North Korean calisthenics video for children with the background music to a Final Fantasy IV boss battle. A video of it was posted on YouTube quite a while ago, but it’s worth revisiting again and again.

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Final Fantasy Chocolates: The gift your gaming Valentine actually wants

Last weekend I was at a department store in Tokyo, and since Valentine’s Day is coming up, the confectionary section was packed with candy makers hawking limited-edition chocolates for the romantic holiday. As I looked at all the sweetness on display, though, something struck me.

In Japan, women give chocolate to the special guy in their life, but the aesthetics are still entirely feminine. I saw dozens of candies shaped like hearts, ribbons, and even teddy bears and other cute woodland animals.

While the craftsmanship was impressive, none of the designs were the sort of things men actually want for themselves, especially when they could have these awesome Final Fantasy chocolates instead.

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Foggy night transforms Tokyo government building into Final Fantasy dungeon

Located a short stroll from Shinjuku Station, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, or Tocho, as it’s commonly called, is one of the city’s most easily recognizable landmarks. Its design is distinctive, stately, powerful…and honestly, if you stare at it too long, it starts to look a little sinister.

Driving this sentiment home were a few Japanese Twitters user who worked a little photo editing magic to prove that Tocho would make a perfect dwelling for an RPG boss in a title from video game giant Square Enix.

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16-bit Final Fantasy XIII story recap will make you weep big fat nerd tears

Put on your nostalgia glasses, people: Square Enix has seen fit to grace us with one of its greatest non-playable endeavors of all time with a Final Fantasy XIII story recap done up in Super Nintendo-era graphics a la Final Fantasy VI – otherwise known as Final Fantasy III or The Best JRPG Ever.

Because this video compresses hundreds of hours of gameplay and hard-earned story revelations into a little under eight minutes, we must issue the most urgent spoiler warning we’ve ever issued, so JRPG fans who have for some reason not yet played the latest Final Fantasy be warned.

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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call could be on its way to the Western world

Final Fantasy, perhaps the biggest and best Japanese RPG series ever as far as the Western world is concerned, is no stranger to spin-offs and dubious sub-sequels. There have been a handful of gems amongst them, but there are some that even fans of the main series would prefer to imagine never happened. Rhythm action game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, however, is one of the few non-core entries in the series that we’re sure gamers would be keen to get their hands on should its makers see fit to release it outside of Japan. And if a patent recently filed in Europe is any indication, they may just get their wish.

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Hollywood blacksmith forges Sephiroth’s massive sword from Final Fantasy VII【Video】

When Final Fantasy VII hit PlayStations around the globe in 1997, featuring some of the most gorgeous graphics and CG cut-scenes gamers had ever seen, it single-handedly opened up the Western market to Japanese console RPGs. In years since, though, there’s been some contention over just how deserving developer Square’s biggest hit ever is of its exalted place in video game lore. Does it have a gripping story, or does the narrative become a confused mess after its midgame plot twist? Do the title’s numerous mini games flesh out its world, or is spending hours breeding giant flightless birds to race for sport both silly and boring?

But no matter which side of the debate you fall on, there’s one thing gamers everywhere can agree on: Final Fantasy VII’s antagonist, Sephiroth, is a stone-cold badass. Now, Hollywood blacksmith Tony Swatton has brought the villain’s iconic weapon, the gigantic blade named Masamune, to life.

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