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22nd March 2024: Fantastic Concern Reborn

This blog entry is going to be a little bit different to any I've done in the past. This is because this entry is about a topic that is very dear to my heart, and I thought I would try to make it a little bit special.

Here, I am going to detail my journey as I played through the 2nd part of the Final Fantasy VII Remake trilogy, in the form of Rebirth.

As I was playing through the game, I constantly paused to write down reactions and thoughts. So in addition to my usual review and first impressions of playing the game as a whole, you can also select individual chapters to see all of those thoughts and reactions from when I was playing the game in real time.

Game Review Intro & Chapter 1 - Flashback Sequence Chapter 2 - Kalm & The Grasslands Chapter 3 - The Mines Chapter 4 - Junon Area Chapter 5 - Shinra 8 Chapter 6 - Costa del Sol Chapter 7 - Costa del Sol Area & Mt. Corel Chapter 8 - The Saucer Chapter 9 - Gongaga Chapter 10 - Cosmo Canyon Chapter 11 - Nibelheim Chapter 12 - The Second Saucer Chapter 13 - Temple Of The Ancients Chapter 14 - City Of The Ancients

Game Review

Now I absolutely love Final Fantasy VII, and my passion for this story and these characters has only been further stoked since the release of Remake back in 2020. The things that the original game did to me back in early '98 changed my outlook on gaming, and while it's certainly not the best game ever made, it's very much my favourite.

However, outside of the original game, expanded FF7 content has always been a little, how shall we say, odd. But for the most part, I've been willing to give it all a go.

So much so, that every console I have bought after the PS2 has been mostly due to this franchise. My PS3, that I picked up in July 2009, was something I only bought because I had ordered Advent Children Complete on blu-ray, and needed something to watch it on.
And my PS4, a console I was 6 years late to, only came into my life because of the approaching release of Remake.

However, both of those consoles had other things going for them, and other games I could easily see myself playing, so their purchases weren't seen as really big risks at the time.

The PS5 however, does not have anything else going for it. With the possible exception of the upcoming Stellar Blade, there is no reason for me to own this console, beyond needing one to play Rebirth. So in that regard, this game needed to be very very good in order for me to justify this purchase, otherwise it would end up being a very expensive piece of metal and plastic scrap.
And to heap more pressure on to this game, it's the first game I have ever pre-ordered, despite TotalBiscuit's old warnings still ringing in my ears.

Let's take a photograph, that definitely won't have anything to do with the plot going into the next game...

Let's take a photograph, that definitely won't have anything to do with the plot going into the next game...

Tifa's so fast she's a blur

Tifa's so fast she's a blur

Let's get this adventure started

Let's get this adventure started

Doesn't look so Kalm over there right now

Doesn't look so Kalm over there right now

Like Remake before it, this game is a 3rd person action game, with some of the old turn-based elements retained for fans of the old, original game. Whereas Remake was confined to the main city of Midgar, here we see Cloud and the gang hitting the road, and going on adventures through a brand new, very impressive, and mostly open, world.

The gameplay therefore is fundamentally the same, though with some new features added in combat, allowing more ways for the characters to deal with very fast or flying enemies. In addition, the characters can now perform synergy abilities, which are powerful combo moves.

I never fully got my head around all of the new synergy systems, as there were so many new things to try and do. I mostly stuck to the combat as I knew it from before, only really bringing in the new techniques when the situation arose, such as for launching Tifa up into the air.

There are however some really cool looking skills that I barely ever used, such as for deflecting incoming ranged attacks, or doing some really cool counters. If I dip back into the game, which I am obviously planning to do in order to clean up some of the stuff I missed, I imagine I will start using these more, just like how I only started using the L1 shortcuts during my second playthrough of Remake.

So does this thing hold up? Or did I potentially buy a £400 piece of garbage?

Aerith! You're not supposed to be praying yet! Didn't you read the script?

Aerith! You're not supposed to be praying yet! Didn't you read the script?

Playing keepie uppie with an Orc<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Playing keepie uppie with an Orc
(webm video)

Tifa don't suffer any rats<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Tifa don't suffer any rats
(webm video)

Barret might sink if this is how he swims

Barret might sink if this is how he swims

Well, just like Remake before it, the game has many ups, but unfortunately plenty of downs as well.

The first thing that needs to be said, is that the game is a behemoth. This thing is huge. I've spent longer playing this the last couple of weeks than I have done on both of my Remake playthroughs combined. And by half way through this game, I decided I had had just about enough of all the side content, and pretty much pushed on with the main story. To fully complete everything would take ages.

And, at least in my opinion, this is one of the game's downsides. In the second part of a remake trilogy, based on a game that I love purely for its characters and story, should there really be this much filler pumped into the game? There are hours and hours and hours of side content, from playing cards and other mini-games, to exploring and analysing areas on the map, to taking photographs, to tracking and killing unique beasties, to spoiling the fun of little Moogles, to digging up loot with your chocobo, to playing piano. The list goes on.

Now here's the thing. Having all of this extra stuff in the game is certainly not necessarily a bad thing. What is a bad thing, is that the game seemingly is desperate for you to take part in everything. And not just take part, but excel.

I say this because, in most games that contain a lot of side content, such as the Witcher 3, the side content is optional. Completing a good chunk of the side quests in games like that will level you up a great deal, giving you a boost going into the end parts of the game. This feels almost like a reward. In Rebirth, I did a load of the side content at first, and over the course of the game I must have easily done more than half of all such content available. But when I got to the end game, I was only a single level higher than the recommended level for those last few quests.
So this makes me think, just how weak would my party have been, had I only played the main story (which I was constantly desperate to get back to!), and not done any side content?

And in addition, you had to get maximum scores on a bunch of different mini-games in order to unlock a bunch of different weapons. Now, some of these games were ok, but some I really didn't like, and some didn't control particularly well, making them frustrating to play. To hide gameplay mechanics behind these things, including such important and cool abilities such as Tifa's Starshower, or Aerith's Ray Of Judgment, really narked me.

Can my team mates stop wrecking other people's shit?<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Can my team mates stop wrecking other people's shit?
(webm video)

Cloud lookin' a bit sketch, like he wants something from this bird

Cloud lookin' a bit sketch, like he wants something from this bird

Holy crap, Red. Did you kill them enough?

Holy crap, Red. Did you kill them enough?

Anyone else getting tired of analysing crystals?

Anyone else getting tired of analysing crystals?

The world itself was incredibly impressive, with wildly varied and very large open zones to explore. I obviously got way more used to it as the game went on, and skipped far more than I should have done, but to begin with, I was exploring everywhere, struggling a little bit to comprehend that this world and these areas even existed, and that I was walking through them. It was very enjoyable, and a massive nostalgia trip.

By far the main issues I had with this new world were down to continuity. If you compare this new map to the one from the original game, they simply to not match, and are not really anywhere close. In addition, there are technically two maps in this game alone, with one being a fully zoomed out view of the world, as well as a more zoomed in one for each zone. And to make matters even more confusing, these two map types, that are both from the same game, do not match either. It's all a bit strange.

How dizzy do you think this bird will get if I just stand here?<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

How dizzy do you think this bird will get if I just stand here?
(webm video)

Tifa and Aerith don't respect your box castle<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Tifa and Aerith don't respect your box castle
(webm video)

Magic teleporting chocobo<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Magic teleporting chocobo
(webm video)

Red having fun riding that chocobo mount<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Red having fun riding that chocobo mount
(webm video)

In Remake, one of the parts of the game that I was most impressed with was the voice acting, and I'm happy to report that it's very much the same here. Pleasantly, Britt Baron as Tifa probably had the most to do in this one, at least in terms of having the most introspective and tender moments. Her voice is perfect for really getting over how gentle and sweet, but how determined and strong, Tifa really is, despite her fears. If there's ever been a fictional character that needs a massive hug, it's Tifa. Especially at the end of this game.

Cody Christian continues to put in stellar work as Cloud, and Zack's actor is much better than he was in Remake. I don't think Red's "teen" voice suits the character at all, but really shows the actor's range.
John Eric Bentley remains the one with probably the hardest job to do, in trying to bring to life this very over the top and dramatic character in the form of Barret, which he continues to do very well. There were some really good Barret moments in this game, especially the Dyne section.

I could just be remembering wrong here, as I tend to laser-focus in on Tifa, but as much as she suits the character, and as good a job as she does, I think this time Briana White didn't really have as much to do in comparison to the previous game. This is odd, considering how important Aerith is to this part of the story. I think maybe I would have felt different, had we ever got to see these little secretive meetings between Aerith and Tifa, but the game would constantly cut away.

As for the new actors, I really like who they cast for Elena and Cait Sith in particular. The only one I'm still not sure of is Cid, whose actor really doesn't sound like what I was expecting.

Elena doesn't stand much chance against Tifa's onslaught

Elena doesn't stand much chance against Tifa's onslaught

Fort Condor shenanigans return

Fort Condor shenanigans return

Smell my finger

Smell my finger

Tifa's got a little frog in her throat. And arms, and legs, and body.<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Tifa's got a little frog in her throat. And arms, and legs, and body.
(webm video)

Though the character writing is still good, and the voice acting is still great, there did however seem to be something a little lacking in a way, when compared to Remake. I think this is because most of these characters are fairly recent acquaintances, and the strong sense of camaraderie didn't seem to be as strong because of it.
The game felt like it really missed that close-knit group of friends we had in Remake, with how well Biggs, Wedge and Jessie used to fit into the original Avalanche team.

I guess it also didn't really help that for large chunks of this game, Cloud is not exactly himself, and this makes the other characters be a bit cagey around him. I am very much looking forward to the later parts of the third game, when Tifa helps Cloud recover his true self, and the whole team can be truly together as a close unit in their quest to stop Sephiroth.

As I alluded to earlier, and yes I am no doubt very biased, but Tifa was the absolute stand out character this time for me. Her friendship with Aerith, that really started to blossom in Remake, is one of the best character-driven elements of this game. It really comes across how much they trust in each other, and confide in one another. I just wish the game had let us see more of it.
And at this point, we still don't know how much they have confided in one another, but their secretive information sharing certainly seems to be helping Tifa get through to Cloud faster than she did in the original. And I really liked that she got more to do in this regard, and seemed to take on more responsibility than at this point in the original game.

After Tifa, I would say my next favourite character was probably Barret. He was nowhere near as over the top in this one, and also had some very introspective and deep moments.

Tifa sure likes kicking bird-type enemies in the face<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Tifa sure likes kicking bird-type enemies in the face
(webm video)

Aerith gets zappy

Aerith gets zappy

Chocobo points the way

Chocobo points the way

Owl beast about to get kung-fu kicked

Owl beast about to get kung-fu kicked

In terms of combat, by far my two most preferred characters were Tifa and Yuffie. I'd been hoping for the last few years that these two would be fun to use together, and they did not disappoint. They're both so fast, and have tools to dish out great damage in nearly any situation, that they were nearly always my team mates if I had the choice. It also really helps that they're really easy to use.

Barret and Aerith seemed very situational this time. For whatever reason, I felt like Aerith had been quite nerfed. I know I missed one of her weapons that would have given me Ray Of Judgment, but I felt like she had very little else to contribute when it came to dishing out the damage. I did really like her radiant ward which powered up her basic attacks. It's a shame that other characters also didn't get this bonus when in this ward, just like how they do when they are in the arcane ward.

I struggled a lot with Red, at least until much later in the game when I started to understand his play style a bit better. However, I'm not a fan of having to do so much blocking in order to build his stronger attacks. But I very much appreciated that there is a way to take him a bit more supportive.

Cait Sith was the weakest for me. I kept getting so confused with all the different things he's got going on, and was also not a fan of how a lot of his abilities are very random. Because of this, I really didn't use him much, but I bet when I play again I'd probably get more used to him, and tap into more of his potential.

There were probably fewer annoying fights in this game compared to Remake, but the ones that existed were annoying in their own way, and tended to contain some pretty big "aha, got ya!" moments. Usually, after getting caught out by these moments, and then being prepared for them, it would mean the fight was much more agreeable.

I know I only played on normal, but the only fights that were actually hard were ones that had been designed to be pretty annoying, rather than an actual decent challenge. And there were a few of these fights, where they were seemingly unwinnable without taking a very specific materia loadout, or having to use one specific type of tactic. When it comes to these things, I'm an old curmudgeon, and usually want to do things my way. Being forced out of my comfort zone can get me frustrated sometimes.

Show / Hide Spoiler Talk

Well, it's been a week since I finished the game, as it's taken me that long to get this blog entry together. But I guess I'd better re-activate my gaming thumbs, and get back into the game. All that extra stuff isn't going to play itself, after all.

23rd February 2024: Amiga Marathon 3: Toon Town Showdown

It's been a very long time since my last little Amiga marathon, which is just not good enough. I'm supposed to be ticking these games off that list, damn it!

Anyway, for this little adventure into the world of Amiga emulation, I selected my final three games that have a very "cartoony" feel to them.


Back in my early teens, I played a few sessions of this game with one of my mates using the two player split screen mode. However, I don't think I ever really tried to go through the main single player "campaign" as it were.

As I'm slowly but surely moving through as many old games I used to play as possible, it made sense that this game would eventually be attempted. And attempt it I did. Note the use of the word attempt.

This is the game that is equally as frustrating as it is fun: Lemmings.

Not gonna lie. I actually thought this was going to be quite easy. Boy how wrong I was.

You shall not pass!

You shall not pass!

There are a lot of ups and downs in this life

There are a lot of ups and downs in this life

Just what is going on in this level?

Just what is going on in this level?

If you've never played it, Lemmings is an early 90s classic, where you have to try and save as many of the little dudes as possible, by directing them to the exits on each level. For each level, you have a set amount of "roles" that each Lemming can take on, such as a digger or a climber, and it's the correct application of these roles, at the right times, that will lead you to victory.

The game is made up of 120 levels, broken down into four difficulties, each containing thirty levels. I managed to get through the first two difficulties with few problems, only having to re-do a few levels here and there.

But it was the third level I immediately started to have trouble with. After having to re-do the 1st level of this difficulty over and over, I aced the 2nd level on the first try, and foolishly thought that maybe the first level was just a blip. However, the third level tested my patience to its limit, with so many retries that it got to the point that I just couldn't do it any more.

So that's just 62 of the 120 that I was able to best without having a complete brain aneurysm.

Ascend, my brethren

Ascend, my brethren

Having a bridge-building contest

Having a bridge-building contest

That's a lotta dead lemmings

That's a lotta dead lemmings


It's been an enormous 12 years since I tackled Fantasy World Dizzy, which was actually just the third game I completed as part of this blog. While Fantasy World was by far my favourite Dizzy game, I also used to own this game on my Amiga as well, which is Treasure Island.

I didn't play this anywhere near as much as Fantasy World, probably because it came before, and has a poorer setting, and an inventory system which can be infuriating.

Back in the day, I'm pretty sure that, along with my brother and next door neighbour, we were able to get off the island, but could never complete the game as we could not find all 30 gold coins.

But this time things were going to be different. I was going to get through this, no matter how hard-boiled I had to get.

However, with just one life, and many things that can kill you, even from just off screen, I again kind-of cheated with the emulator, and created save states 'o' plenty.

It may have taken me a little too much time wandering about going back and forth across the water, and may have also required a quick look at a Youtube video to find a couple of the coins, but I managed to get through it in the end.

But damn that shopkeeper, taking all of my treasure, just so I could get a working boat and escape. He definitely had the sweetest gig in this game.

He's got his egg in the clouds again

He's got his egg in the clouds again

Ahh, the old upside down swimming technique

Ahh, the old upside down swimming technique

RIP me

RIP me


I doubt I spent longer on completing this game than I spent on my failed attempt to finish Lemmings, but it sure as hell felt like it.

This is another game from my childhood that I thought was going to be easy, only for it to end up far from. This is The NewZealand Story.

In this platform game, you have to control a little kiwi as it travels around trying to rescue its friends, who have all been kidnapped by a seal.

Throughout the game's 5 stages, that each contain 4 levels, things get progressively more and more frustrating, as the mazes become more intense, the enemies become more numerous, and the platforming becomes more precise.

It's unlikely anyone in my family got very far back in the day, but I could clearly remember the name of the third stage, so someone must have gotten at least to there. Probably my sister. But whoever it was that got that far, fair play to them I say. Because it most certainly would not have been me.

Kicking an arrow at a space whale

Kicking an arrow at a space whale

Getting wrecked by a swarm of bats that have been vomited up by a stone octopus

Getting wrecked by a swarm of bats that have been vomited up by a stone octopus

I can see you my friend. If only I had a no clip cheat.

I can see you my friend. If only I had a no clip cheat.

How in the world anyone can have the patience and skill to work through games like this without using save states I will never understand. I think the only game I've tried that was worse than this for being frustrating was Jaws.

I have no shame in admitting that my run through had seemingly endless saving and loading going on, otherwise there would have simply been no way for me to get through it.

Sometimes I wonder just why I do this to myself? Why do I try and force myself through games that I do not enjoy playing? Things could be so much smoother, if only there was a quicksave and quickload in the emulator. I mean, there might just be, but I searched all over the internet and could find no such instruction or documentation. This left me needing multiple button presses and mouse clicks every time I wanted to save or load. Sheesh.

Well, at least I'm through it at last.

By far the worst level for me was the craziest maze, which I think was the 2nd level of stage 5. This was an absolute nightmare running around and around trying to find where to go.

And the last level at times hurt my eyes because of the weird white and blue background, which made me go a little dizzy at it scrolled passed. It definitely did not help that this was the level where the most platforming precision was required, including lots of jumping onto single little blocks.

In a break from tradition though, the game features a very easy end boss, who was by far and away the easiest boss in the game. Stupid dumb seal kept throwing his bombs clear over my head as I rattled off arrow after arrow into him until he was dead.
Maybe the developers thought that the player would have suffered enough by this point and threw us a bone.

I don't wanna go right. The crazy cat gang is over there.

I don't wanna go right. The crazy cat gang is over there.

Ptooey!

Ptooey!

Friend seems happy that I rescued him while riding a duck

Friend seems happy that I rescued him while riding a duck

Upon researching this game, I did at least find out a few interesting little bits of info.

Firstly, I did not know this game was originally an arcade game. I guess it makes sense now as to why it was so frustrating and difficult. It's so that people wouldn't get very far and would have to put more money in to try again.

Also, when I originally got my Amiga 500, it was second hand. It turns out that it must have originally been the Amiga Batman Pack, that was first sold in 1989. That's because this game was bundled in with Batman, F/A-18 Interceptor, and DPaint 2, all of which I had. This was just a little bit of info I never knew, or had very long forgotten.

Stupid maze is stupid

Stupid maze is stupid

Look at this ridiculous background

Look at this ridiculous background

End boss can't aim straight

End boss can't aim straight

19th February 2024: Terraria Trapped Twit

Back in September and October, I saw Twitch streamer Preach play through Terraria for his first time. Though I should have been doing something else, indeed anything else, I instead got sucked back into the game.

My intention at first was not to play through the whole game, but rather just build a cool looking base of some kind. To that end, I chose the game's "journey" mode, which I thought would give me unlimited access to pretty much any resource in the game, so I could build whatever I wanted.

This proved to be an incorrect assumption. Indeed, it is possible to freely duplicate items in journey mode, but you first have to collect enough of the item in order to research it enough to duplicate.
And of course, as many of the good items are unlocked later into the game, I just sort of got swept away in the game's progression.

Come on ladies!

Come on ladies!

Cranking up the spawn rate

Cranking up the spawn rate

Basic enemies are easy prey for my pit traps

Basic enemies are easy prey for my pit traps

Not this guy again

Not this guy again

The other bonus to journey mode is that you can control the difficulty of the enemies, and how many spawn. This was pretty cool for a casual playthrough, as I could turn the enemies off completely while base-building. But then when the base was ready I could crank the spawn rate way up to see if I could hold off all of those enemies with my newly built defences and traps.

By the end of my playtime, I'd not only got my main base built, but there was another base in the sky for all of the NPCs, as well as a myriad of small bases all over the map. These were all inter-connected using pylons and teleporters. Some of them even got full rebuilds or renovations, while some got abandoned and moved to other parts of the map entirely. I was just having a good ol' base-buildin' time, all right?

The pirates regret making a move on my base

The pirates regret making a move on my base

Watch out creeps, someone gave me a flamethrower

Watch out creeps, someone gave me a flamethrower

Ground base renovation begins

Ground base renovation begins

Sky base renovation begins

Sky base renovation begins

While game progression wasn't really the goal upon starting to play, I still ended up naturally just moving through the game, tackling bosses and events as they came up. Some of them were new to me, especially the Old One's Army event which I did several times. While I was able to comfortably beat the first two tiers, the third tier eluded me. I just couldn't build enough defences to take on the waves of enemies while I handled the boss.
Then again, I did not have end game equipment, so maybe I would have managed it had I continued.

The last thing I remember doing was starting to prep for an attempt at taking out Duke Fishron. After that all I would need to do was tackle the lunar events and the Moon Lord, who weren't even in the game when I last went through it.

Unfortunately, once Preach was done with the game and I didn't have his influence, my interest fell off hard, and I haven't played it since the middle of November. I intended to go back to it, just to try the late game bosses, but when I tried to pick it back up again in mid February, I couldn't remember what I was doing, or any of the controls or anything. With Rebirth on the horizon I just didn't fancy spending extra time on this.

I'm always getting plagued by mourning wood

I'm always getting plagued by mourning wood

That's a strange thing to admit

That's a strange thing to admit

Fighting off some alien invaders

Fighting off some alien invaders

Kitty helps me take out more aliens

Kitty helps me take out more aliens


At the placed we stayed at while on holiday back in August, they had an arcade cabinet that was running a MAME arcade emulator. There were an absolute fuck ton of games in the list, with many I'd played as a kid, and many I'd like to try.

However, the vast majority of the games I tried either wouldn't load, or wouldn't play right if they did load. The only one I managed to get working was Aliens, based on probably my second favourite film of all time.

It looks like I didn't even get half way through it, as I was dead after about 10 minutes, with maybe another 15 minutes left in the game.

Would have probably been better if I'd been able to grab someone else to play it with me in a multiplayer attempt, but alas, it was not to be.

Remember that bit in the film, where they plated the APC in gold?

Remember that bit in the film, where they plated the APC in gold?

Remember that bit in the film, where Ripley uses a rocket launcher?

Remember that bit in the film, where Ripley uses a rocket launcher?

Get away from her, you weird looking orange bitch!

Get away from her, you weird looking orange bitch!

12th February 2024: Old Computer Shite

I still possess six of the fourteen computers I've owned in my life time, and could very well have another one returned to me from the family member who borrowed it years ago.

Last year I pretended that I don't have other more important projects to get around to, and made the decision that I wanted to go through the four older machines, make sure they were working, give them a refresh, and see if I could get more utility out of them.
I also wanted to change their names to match COOL22's naming convention of [name][year]-[OS].

Show / hide old computer shite

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