Character Study: Yuna’s Pilgrimage

The main character of Final Fantasy X is Tidus, but the main heroine of the story is Yuna. Daughter of High Summoner Braksa, Yuna resolves to take the unenviable journey to receive the Final Aeon and defeat Sin, bringing peace to all of Spira. Yuna is one of the most interesting and determined characters ever to grace an RPG. While some female characters are often criticized for being mere “damsels in distress”, this article will delve into Yuna’s story and discuss why she is such an amazingly strong character.
 Final Fantasy X Yuna Sending Kilika
Final Fantasy X features an emotional and gripping narrative and a very interesting concept for it’s story; death. The people of Spira are constantly under attack from the seemly invincible monster Sin, who causes death and destruction all over the world and the only way to bring peace (albeit briefly) is for a summoner and their guardian to sacrifice their lives in the hope to defeat Sin by using Aeons which are souls of the dead. Even if they are victorious, Sin is soon reborn and cycle begins anew. A pretty depressing prospect indeed.
 Auron: “Spira is full of death… only Sin is reborn, and then only to bring more death. It is a cycle of death, spiraling endlessly.”
 Final Fantasy X Yuna Sin
Despite this, Yuna chooses to follow in the footsteps of her late father and volunteer herself to journey across the world gaining enough strength and knowledge to battle Sin. During the first half of the game Tidus (and by extension, the player) is unaware that Yuna must die in order to defeat Sin. When you first encounter Yuna she seems like a reserved, yet optimistic woman, but there is an air of sadness about her. At first it seems that she is just cautious of the pressure put on her by the expectation of everyone in the world relying on her to defeat Sin, but soon you realise there is a much more tragic reason. When Tidus learns the truth, his emotions get the better of him and I’m sure the player is no different. Looking back now, all of a sudden Yuna’s odd actions seem to make sense and it is all summed up beautifully by this heartbreaking line spoken by Tidus.
Tidus: “Sometimes Yuna would just stare off into the distance. I finally understood why. She was saying goodbye to all the places she’d never see again.”
Final Fantasy X Yuna Besaid
While the realisation that your death is not only inevitable, but that the gruelling journey you are taking is actually bringing you closer and closer to it would be enough to make even the most courageous person falter, Yuna’s resolve is strong and her determination, stronger still. Yuna fully accepts her fate and takes very seriously her responsibility to bring peace to the people of Spira. While she may seem frail, soft spoken or unassuming physically, her will is insurmountable. She is meet with many other challenges during her journey, but she never once relents, even knowing what the end will bring. Tidus often questions her motives and sacrifice, even going as far as suggesting she just quit the pilgrimage and live a normal life, but she responds that even is she were free to do whatever she wanted to, even with Tidus by her side, she would never be able to forget her promise to everyone.
Yuna: “I fight for Spira. The people long for the Calm. I can give it to them. It’s all I can give. Defeating Sin, ending pain… this I can do.”
 Final Fantasy X Yuna Calm
You learn over the course of the game that many summoners have failed in their Pilgrimage, whether they lose their resolve and give up, or die before they even get to the final battle. Summoners surround themselves with guardians for protection on their Pilgrimage and Yuna is no different. They say you can tell the character of the person by how others talk about them, and everyone shows Yuna a lot of respect and admiration. Even her enemies acknowledge her resilience and while many of the hierarchy of Yevon try to use her for their own means, not one of them succeeds and Yuna herself is often the one to foil their plans. Lulu, Wakka and Kimahri are like family to Yuna and guard her with their lives, Rikku is her family and tries everything in her power to keep her safe and even Auron sees the strength in her and allows her to make her own decisions. Yuna is of course just as thankful and willing to do anything for her friends.
Yuna: “Maester Seymour. I trust my guardians with my life. But they are also my friends. I will not stand by and watch them be hurt. I will fight you, too!”
 Final Fantasy X HD Group
That brings us to the last person Yuna grows close to over her journey, Tidus. Being an outsider Tidus has a completely different perspective of the world of Spira and has no attachment towards traditions and Yuna’s faith in Yevon’s teachings. It is an interesting dynamic how Yuna tries to explain it to Tidus and how she tells him her sacrifice is worth it to see the people of Spira happy. Some of biggest character development in Yuna’s arc comes when she discovers Yevon’s deceit and how she responds to it. Tidus notes how Yuna is visibly shaken as her faith is torn from her. Although once again Yuna is not one to back down and staying true to herself she continues on with her journey as the people of Spira’s happiness is her only concern. Yuna once told Tidus how she taught herself to be strong and practiced smiling to everyone, even when she was in turmoil inside. Yuna has incredible inner strength, but she also understands that she needs the strength of her friends to overcome her mightiest challenges.
Yuna: “I’ve… learned how to smile… Even when I’m feeling sad.”
Final Fantasy X Yuna Sad
Yuna is the shining light of hope to the people of Spira and she is an amazing and well developed character amongst a cast of great characters in Final Fantasy X.

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Review: Why You Should Play Chaos Rings

Chaos Rings is a turn-based RPG for the iOS platform that brings impressive art design, an intriguing story and console style gameplay to the iPhone and iPad.

Chaos Rings Battle

Developed by creators of the Wild Arms series Media.Vision and with art direction from Yusuke Naora who worked on RPG classics Final Fantasy VII and VIII, Chaos Rings has a distinct PlayStation era feel. The pre-rendered backgrounds look beautiful and highly detailed and the character designs are interesting and varied. Chaos Rings is one of the most visually pleasing RPGs on the iOS platform and a great game in it’s own right.

Chaos Rings Background

The story of Chaos Rings revolves around four different pairs of characters that are brought together in the Ark Arena and forced to fight for their lives, with the victors gaining immortality. The game lets you chose between four different scenarios adding re-play value as each one plays out differently. Each pair must travel through various dungeons and face bosses in order to learn more about the Ark Arena, the mysterious Agent who appears to be running the Arena and the truth about why they have been summoned there. Each pair have an interesting relationship dynamic, from being husband and wife to wanting to get revenge for murder, but over the course of the game they develop further and you learn the truth about their pasts. The story and the characters that fill it are both interesting and engaging.

Chaos Rings Character Select

Chaos Rings brings a slight switch up to the tradition turn-based battles RPG players are familiar with. In combat each couple can choose to attack individually or combine together to perform a more powerful paired attack. Using pair attacks might cause more damage, but then the enemies have a chance to fight back and attack both party members in a single strike. A Break Meter is also displayed showing who has the upper hand in battle so balancing between using solo and pair attacks is crucial to winning tough boss battles. After defeating monsters you can earn Gene Plates that can be equipped to your characters to allow them to perform magic attacks in combat. Most of the gameplay revolves around dungeon crawling, but a few puzzle room challenges that require you to move blocks and teleport your character around obstacles are implemented to provide a bit of variety.

Chaos Rings Immortal

Like the visuals, the soundtrack is also impressive for the hardware. The music is mostly lively and up-tempo, such as the majestic “Theme of Chaos Rings”. While other tracks change it up like the eerie and mysterious “No Place Like Home”. Most tunes have multiple parts making the compositions feel varied and unique. This is a quality soundtrack.

Chaos Rings Puzzle

Chaos Rings is an impressive RPG designed for mobile platforms featuring great combat and art style. If you wish to play a quality RPG on your iPhone or iPad then you should play Chaos Rings.

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Top 5 RPG Series That Need A Comeback

Some RPG series have been dormant for many years now. During the Super Nintendo, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 eras these series were seen as some of the best and most innovative. A few of these series have seen some spin-off games or Japanese only titles recently, while others haven’t had a new release in over a decade. These are the Top 5 RPG series that need to make a comeback.
1. -Suikoden-
Starting life on the original PlayStation back in 1995, the Suikoden series is well known for it’s focus on political storylines, ability to recruit 108 characters and three different types of combat, including turn-based party battles, one-on-one duels and large scale strategy war battles. Suikoden II is probably the most critically acclaimed in the series, while the last mainline instalment was Suikoden V released in 2006. It would be amazing for Konami to release Suikoden VI and bring back the epic storylines and intense battles.
Suikoden II Battle
2. -Grandia-
Developed by Game Arts, the original Grandia is seen as a classic released on the Sega Saturn and PlayStation. Grandia featured one of the best turn-based battles systems ever made, that allowed your characters to counter or even interrupt enemy attacks. The rest of the series followed on with this great system, but despite an online entry recently the last mainline entry was Grandia III released on the PlayStation 2. I would love to see a Grandia revival capturing the sense of imagination, spirit and adventure of the first game.
Grandia Fun
3. -Wild ARMS-
Like a few of the series on this list, the first Wild ARMS game was released on the original PlayStation. Published by Sony, Wild ARMS was notable for having an “Old West” theme and characters that used firearms as weapons. While beginning with a traditional turn-based battles system, later entries changed up the formula to incorporate a Hex System allowing characters to move around a grid when fighting enemies. With 5 main games and a tactical RPG spin-off all releasing on past PlayStation systems now is the time to bring Wild ARMS 6 to the PlayStation 4.
Wild ARMS 5 Dean Rebecca
4. -Dark Cloud-
Level 5 has created some fantastic RPGs over the years, but their very first was Dark Cloud for the PlayStation 2 back in 2000. A sequel, Dark Chronicle was released a couple of years later improving on everything from the original featuring action RPG battles, city-building system mechanics and a magical cel-shaded art style. With the last game released over a decade ago, many fans have waited long enough for a 3rd Dark Cloud game.
Dark Chronicle Characters
5. -Breath of Fire-
The oldest series on the list, Capcom developed the first game for the Super Nintendo back in 1993. After a sequel on the SNES, the series moved to the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 and really hit it’s stride. The battle system is turn-based and the main protagonist of each game is named Ryu who can transform in different types of dragons. The last entry Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter was released in 2002 and brought some unique design elements to the series. Despite a sixth entry being announced in Japan for smartphones, RPG fans would rather a console game returning to the style of Breath of Fire IV.
Breath of Fire Battle

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Blind Nostalgia or Just a Superior Game?

I first played Final Fantasy X over a decade ago. It was the reason I got a PlayStation 2 and it was the only game I owned until I completed everything there was to do (yeah even dodging 200 lightning bolts!) It was recently re-released as Final Fantasy X HD along with its intriguing sequel, updated graphics, beautifully remastered soundtrack and extra content from the Japanese versions. It is a bittersweet moment for me though as I keep asking myself why is this 10 year old ago game so much better than any other RPG I have played on my PlayStation 3 this generation?

Final Fantasy X HD Luca

Final Fantasy X is not my favourite RPG, or even my favourite Final Fantasy, but it is a fantastic game and transitioned the soul of the series wonderfully well from the PlayStation era to more powerful PlayStation 2 hardware. When people talk about modern RPGs, I have seen the argument that the often criticised Final Fantasy XIII is the exact same linear design first featured in Final Fantasy X. Initially I got the same impression, but the deeper you delve into each game, it becomes more and more apparent of how much superior FFX is and it really highlights the flaws in FFXIII and other modern RPGs in general.

Final Fantasy X HD Tidus

RPGs that tell engaging stories always have to have a component of linearity, but the ones that are elevated above the normal are the ones that still provide the illusion of freedom. The older Final Fantasy titles did this amazingly well that we didn’t even notice it was a feature until it was gone. Sure, you had to go from one place to the other as the story dictated, but the choice was always yours. You could explore other areas off the beaten track to find secret items, you could backtrack to previously visited areas to see how things had progressed, you could partake in mini-games at your leisure, you could fight endless battles to build your characters up to insanely powerful levels or when you were ready you could just get on with the story. The illusion of freedom was always there, Final Fantasy X had that… Final Fantasy XIII did not.

Final Fantasy X HD Group

Final Fantasy X HD has had a facelift and I really appreciate the effort that has gone into the visuals. The backgrounds are magnificent, sharp and intricately detailed and the main character models have also been noticeably upgraded. There are plenty of elements left over from a game originally released in 2001, but for me this world is beautiful and endlessly enticing. FFX’s Spira is one of the most living and breathing worlds in any RPG and I found myself talking to all the NPCs around and often stopping to take in the extraordinary scenery. Again I have found it hard to be absorbed in the worlds of modern RPGs, but Final Fantasy X does it effortlessly. This is a fantasy I was more than happy to return to.

Final Fantasy X HD Besaid

I hadn’t played FFX for over 10 years so I couldn’t remember every single detail of the story, but I was surprised how quickly I was drawn into the story. Having visited Japan recently, the themes and locations really hit me as having a more Asian feel than most games in the Final Fantasy series, such as the island-like setting, the temples and architecture, Yuna’s kimono and respectful/ reserved personality, Auron’s design etc. While lots of modern Japanese companies are striving to “Westernise” their games to better appeal to English speaking cultures, it is ironic to see how Japanese FFX feels and then how popular it is with said fans. The story is a big feature of Final Fantasy X and it is fantastically realised and implemented. Again to compare it to FFXIII, the backstory of Spira and its fate is easily and logically explained through gameplay itself, instead of having to read through a datalog to try and follow what is going on.

Final Fantasy X HD Yuna and Tidus

Just like the world, the characters are also full of life and depth. During its original development Squaresoft put a big emphasis on character emotion and this groundwork still shines through today. The interactions between the main characters are thoughtful and touching and I really enjoy the honest moments between Tidus and Yuna. Some of their conversations have an air of innocence and childlike perception and I can’t help but think this was the influence of Hironobu Sakaguchi as many of his games share this trait. Modern Square Enix RPGs including FFXIII definitely don’t have these moments and a lot of the staff are the same between these two games except Sakaguchi, it couldn’t just be a coincidence could it? FFX was also one of the first RPGs to feature extensive voice acting and while it is not perfect there are some truly memorable performances that helped elevate the experience. Viewing Auron’s emotional and thrilling speech before the battle with Yunalesca still sent shivers down my spine even today and the noticeable difference between Tidus’s whining voice during the first half of the story, compared to his deeper more mature voice during his narration is a great example of subtle character development that is not just thrown in your face.

Final Fantasy X HD Auron

The last thing I want to touch on is the battle system. I still think this is one of the best battle system in any RPG. The ability to switch out party members so that everyone can participate is genius and adds a lot to battle strategy as different characters are needed to deal with different enemies and it helps build attachment to whole party. Being able to control everyone in battle is a big feature for me and games like FFXIII that limit you to one only is a big disappointment. Seeing as you spend so much time in RPGs during combat, having a flexible, strategic battle system is a must. Square Enix tried to speed up the battle system in FFXIII but lost a lot of the strategy as I did find myself just hitting auto battle repeatedly, just waiting until I staggered the foe, switched combat roles and repeat. If they wanted to speed up the battles they only need to look at Final Fantasy X’s sequel that hit a great balance between speed and strategy/ control.

Final Fantasy X HD Battle

I am fully immersed and loving every minute of Final Fantasy X HD. I just wish they would still make these kind of RPGs with big budgets on home consoles today. It is just not nostalgia for me, they are just simply better designed games…

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Review: Why You Should Play Pokemon Gold and Silver

Pokémon Gold and Silver are twin turn-based RPGs for the GameBoy Colour that brought the popular monster catching series to new heights as well as expanding on the foundations set in the original games .
Pokemon Gold Title
The original Pokémon Red and Blue allowed players to travel around the game world catching over 100 species of Pokémon creatures and training them to battle against other Pokémon Trainers to become the world champion. Gold and Silver updated the formula adding over 100 new Pokémon, new varieties, a whole new region to explore (with a real world time mechanic) and more complexity to the game play. Everything that was great about the first generation of Pokémon games, was amplified in these sequels.
Pokemon GS Train
The story of Gold and Silver is a direct sequel set 3 years after the events of the original games including appearances from some major characters. The player is tasked with travelling the world and amassing and training a party of Pokémon to battle against the best of the best. While the story is minimal and the visuals on the original GameBoy were limited, the region of Johto (which is based on the real Japanese region of Kansai) is full of interesting cities and locations to explore. At the end of the main storyline you also have the opportunity to revisit the Kanto region in Red and Blue and see how things have changed over the 3 years, effectively adding a second quest to the game. The Pokémon creatures themselves are diverse and will appeal to many different kinds of tastes. They are true characters of the games.
Pokemon GS Battle
While initially seeming to be about monster collecting, the real focus of the series is battling the Pokémon you have caught in turn-based combat. There are 17 different elemental types of Pokémon that all have advantages and disadvantages against each other, such as fire being weak to water, but strong against grass. With each Pokémon having four moves (which can be of different type) and battles allowing up to 6 Pokémon each side, battles can be very strategic and engaging, especially against other human players. Add in the fact Pokémon can also hold items that have special effects in combat and there is plenty of room to experiment. The longevity of the Pokémon series is down to fact that they are easy for everyone to play, but have surprising depth and complexity for more advanced players willing to look for it. This has only increased as the series grew.
Pokemon GS Red
Of course the real appeal of the Pokémon series is the fantastic multiplayer aspects. Trading Pokémon with friends and then building your ultimate team to battle against them is easily the most rewarding part of the game. While these decade old games are still playable, they received a recent remake bringing them inline with the modern series and todays handheld consoles expanding the multiplayer access with online play.
Pokemon Heart Gold Soul Silver
With the limited hardware of the GameBoy Colour, locations needed musical themes to make them stand out, such as the tune for “Goldenrod City”, which is appropriate lively for a big bustling city. The easily recognisable battle theme is also frantic and gives you feeling of being ambushed by a wild Pokémon, while the “Champion Battle” builds urgency and intensity when the stakes are high.
Pokemon Heart Gold
Pokémon Gold and Silver are classic portable RPGs that are both accessible, but with hidden depth and complexity. If you wish to play an RPG that allows strategic battles against friends then you should play Pokémon Gold and Silver.

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Top 5 RPGs of 2013

There were some fantastic RPGs released in 2013. From stellar entries in long running series, to some fresh new experiences. The Nintendo 3DS had a great year and some of its best games are reflected in this list. Unfortunately there are a few quality RPGs I have yet to play so please leave some thoughts on your favourite RPGs of 2013 in comments.
1. – The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds –
A true triumph of game design, A Link Between Worlds manages to rekindle memories of one of the greatest games of all time while also reinventing the classic Zelda franchise. Focusing on straightforward design lets the gameplay really shine as the combat is fast and fluid and the dungeon puzzles are creative, imaginative and rewarding. The fresh elements include the item rental system and Link’s ability to turn into a painting and merge into walls. These seemingly simple mechanics completely change the way you play the game as the world is yours to explore very early on and not only do you have to think about puzzles from the top down view, but sometimes the answers can only be achieved by looking at them from a completely different perspective. The 3D effect also adds to the gameplay in a meaningful way. This is Nintendo at the top of their game.
Zelda ALBW Battle
2. – Bravely Default –
While the start of a new series, this game feels like the direction the classic Final Fantasy series could have taken in recent years and what a game it is. Bravely Default features beautiful hand-drawn backgrounds, an exciting and strategic new take on tradition turn-based combat, a robust customisable job system, fully explorable world map, charming and interesting characters, brilliant soundtrack, memorable villains and a story centered around crystals and saving the world. It perfectly combines the spirit, freedom and customisation from the SNES era Final Fantasy instalments with the presentation, atmosphere and character development of the PS1 era titles. If this sounds like the things you look for in an RPG, you need to play this game.
Bravely Default Ship
3. – Fire Emblem: Awakening –   
While Fire Emblem is a long running series, not all of its entries have been released in English or really gained any mainstream success, that is until this brilliant title. An in-depth strategy RPG at its core, Awakening also features the ability to create your own character, manage interactions and relationships between the enormous amount of party members, superb presentation, substantial addition content and an engaging story with great dialogue and character development. The experience and difficulty is adjustable making it approachable to new players, while also keeping its hardcore gameplay the series is known for. A game that will keep you coming back for a long time.
Fire Emblem Awakening Battle
4. – Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix –
A high definition update to a PS2 classic. While the original Kingdom Hearts is the gem of this collection it also includes the PS2 remake of Kingdom Hearts: Chains of Memories and cutscenes from the Nintendo DS spinoff Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. The first game in the series is still a fantastic action RPG expertly combining some of Disney’s greatest animated movies with popular Final Fantasy characters connecting it all with an entertaining original story, superb voice acting, fun real time combat system and a fantastic soundtrack. Whether you are playing this for the first time or reliving fond memories this is a great collection and will get you ready for 2.5 Remix coming in 2014.
Kingdom Hearts Sora Riku
5. – Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch –  
A combination from acclaimed RPG maker Level 5 and famed anime company Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni features some of the best visuals you will ever see in a video game. The art direction and animation will draw you into the magical world, but you will stay to explore the imaginative locations, quirky characters, intriguing story and unique battle system that combines real-time action with menu commands and monster collecting. A whimsical adventure that is both charming and inviting.
Ni No Kuni Forest

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Preview: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

The Legend of Zelda is an absolute classic video game series and the SNES master piece A Link to the Past is not only seen as one of the best instalments, but one of the best games ever made. It is a daunting task to go back and revisit such a classic, but over 20 years after it’s release Nintendo are making a sequel for the Nintendo 3DS.
Zelda ALBW Hyrule
A Link Between Worlds harkens back to 2D top-down style of it’s predecessor featuring a bright and colourful Hyrule over world to explore, contrasted against a new take on the Dark World with the dreary alternate land of Lorule. For players who miss the classic style top down RPGs this looks like a great game to bring back that old magic. Even the character designs have a unique look that makes the game feel like a modern day SNES game. A Link Between Worlds will also use the 3D effect of the hardware to add verticality and depth to the visuals including making effects jump out of the screen at the player.
 Zelda ALBW Link Jump
While A Link Between Worlds features many returning elements from the revered SNES game, it is also looking to add innovations of its own. The original Legend of Zelda allowed the player to explore the world any way they wished, choosing which dungeons to complete in which order and A Link Between Worlds is expanding on that concept. Recent games in the series have been known to hold the players hand, but in this game the player can rent or buy whatever items they want from the mysterious merchant and challenge any dungeon, in any order depending on what items they need for the task.
 Zelda ALBW Boss
Another new feature that is set to turn the gameplay on its head, is Link’s ability to become a painting and merge with walls. This changes the perspective of the camera, enabling the player to access other areas, dodge enemies, find hidden secrets and travel between the two alternate worlds.
 Zelda ALBW Merge
Set generations after the events of A Link to the Past, the pointy eared hero is again off to save Princess Zelda and Hyrule. If you loved the SNES masterpiece or have longed for another epic 2D Zelda adventure, then you should be interested in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

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