Why Skies of Arcadia Deserves to Be Remastered on Modern Consoles.

Sega‘s heralded JRPG, Skies of Arcadia, originally released for the Dreamcast in 2000. When the Sega Dreamcast ended its early run in the console market, Sega opted to port some of its hit Dreamcast titles to consoles of the era. Among them included the JRPG, rebranded now as Skies of Arcadia: Legends, for the Nintendo GameCube.

Skies of Arcadia starts the Sky Pirate, Vyse, and his childhood friend, Fina. They’re Sky Pirates initially taking jobs before fighting against the Valuan Empire. Along the way, they meet Fina, a girl from the Silver Civilization, and more companions along the way. During their resistance against the empire, they’ll build a crew for their airship, fight through dungeons, and even battle airships.

While Skies of Arcadia was loved for its character design, soundtrack, and setting, hindsight is only 20/20. Despite its wondrous and popular aesthetic, Skies of Arcadia suffered from some more common JRPG flaws, These will appear later in the article.

While Skies of Arcadia has only made cameo appearances in Sega titles since the GameCube release, players want to revisit this world again. Ideally, perhaps Sega could not just re-release the title for modern consoles but remaster it with modern quality-of-life improvements.

Rogue’s Landing stage from Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. (2012)

What Made Skies of Arcadia Special

People embraced Skies of Arcadia for its character design, music, and unique setting. Unlike any other game past, you were a Sky Pirate who sailed across the sky. The world was divided by islands and you used an airship to explore.

Its battle system entailed the use of SP. In addition to MP for magic spells, SP offered another layer of depth. These powerful strikes offered impressive cinematics while your character unleashed a devastating blow on the enemy.

The locales, the characters, and even having a pirate crew charmed its players. Perhaps also due to its limited releases, its novelty value remains high among its fans.

What a Proper Remaster Could Entail

Despite its best intentions, Skies of Arcadia suffered from its own series of flaws. Even though Legends attempted to lower the encounter rate, in comparison to other JRPGs, it was still considerably high. It was also no secret that the player would get lost at times without consulting a guide.

Skies of Arcadia’s ship battles moved like molasses. Thanks to the over-emphasis on cutscenes, the animations, and long HP bars could make fights take up to 45 minutes long. This was followed by a boss battle which, if you lost, you would have to do all over again.

The title does not need to focus on improving aesthetics outside of your usual HD Remaster such as Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. Rather, some quality of life improvements would breathe new life into the game.

ACT FFX HD Remaster Comparison
Final Fantasy X (2001, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (2013, 2015)

Final Thoughts

I feel ambivalent towards Skies of Arcadia. On one hand, I love its characters, especially Gilder, Fina, and Vyse. On the other hand, it was a slog to play through. I hated that I lost near the final boss fight because I was under-leveled and forced to grind.

Despite this, I know it has the potential to be an even better game. I would love to see it return, better than before, by Sega’s grace. Whether through an HD Remaster, remake, or even a sequel, here’s hoping Sega will revisit the Blue Rogues once more.

Did you play Skies of Arcadia or Legends? Let us know in the replies below. As always, be sure to follow our social media pages below to bring the latest gaming content with you!

 

 

Hello, readers!  I just to say that SEGA Forever was buzzing a little bit about Skies or Arcadia.  While this isn’t a guaranty, we thought it might show promise.

‘Sorry to people that thought that my promotion of the article made this click bait.  It wasn’t my intention or John Rinyu’s fault.

‘Sorry for any confusion and/or frustration.

-HERETICPRIME

Persona 5 Royal Review

Persona 5 Royal is a Japanese RPG developed and released by Atlus, in 2020, for PlayStation 4. Being a re-release of 2017’s Persona 5, Royal features new features, storylines, quality-of-life improvements, and characters. This improved version of the game echoes Atlus’ previous re-releases in the series: Persona 3 FES (2008) and Persona 4 Golden (2012).

In Persona 5 Royal, you’ll play as the leader of the Phantom Thieves. This group of vigilantes becomes known for erasing the distorted desires of villainous beings. As you live your daily life in the outskirts of Shibuya, Japan, you’ll hang out with friends, enter dungeons, and even play mini-games. The social link-building, well-paced gameplay, and epic music will surely charm fans of the genre.

When I played Persona 5 back in 2018, it introduced me to an immense world. I’ve never played something so stylish, so polished, and yet, so long. Spending over 100 hours, I found it to be one of the greatest games I ever played and finally understood the hype surrounding it. This past year, I’ve beaten both Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden and admit they’re easily as engaging as Persona 5. With that said, I knew it was time to return to Shibuya for another round with Royal.

If you want to view a quick list of updates and additions in Royal, check out the list here.

Story

Persona 5 Royal features the high school transfer student, Ren Amamiya, trying to live life after being convicted of assault. Sentenced to probation he now attends Shujin Academy as an exchange student. Living at Cafe Leblanc, he must spend a year away from home while trying to manage school and his life as the Phantom Thieves.

What I love about Persona 5’s story is its ability to touch on real-life social issues. Your first villain is a teacher/coach who commits sexual abuse against female students while bullying the students on his volleyball team. You’ll fight plenty of demons, shadows, and other mythological beings. But Persona 5 does a handy job of exposing the worst of society by reforming them and changing their hearts. Of course, it’s with plenty of humorous moments along with being dead serious.

What makes Persona 5 Royal’s story especially interesting is its gray morality. The Phantom Thieves become a hot debate in society as to whether their actions are righteous or illegal. It becomes even more complicated thanks to the third semester. If you unlock the right conditions, the third semester’s story will open up. This will bring you to an even grayer area on whether it is alright to rob people of their escapism in order to pursue happiness.

Character Design

Persona 5 offers a colorful cast of appealing characters. Engaging in their social links allows you to develop your relationship and help them solve their life problems. You can even enter romantic relationships with them. The game’s writing brings the player close to the characters with such clever writing as to immerse them in the story. Their pain is your pain.

I love the character design just for how well-animated the characters are. I’m especially fond of Morgana for your being the occasionally smart-assed, sensitive cat friend. Amidst the heroes, villains, and those in-between, you’re bound to find characters you bond with. Also note that, even with as much dialogue in the game, the game cleverly paces it with strong writing.

I should also mention that one particular character received outstanding character development. While their story expired late into the original Persona 5, the 3rd semester brought forth their inner, true self in the grandest way possible. It turned a character I strongly disliked and spun a complete 180 on them in the best conceivable way.

Aesthetics

Persona 5 features gorgeous animations and visuals. It offers a robust, stylish, UI, smooth battle transitions, and feels wonderfully polished in every possible way. Persona 5 Royal now offers 4K support for PS4 Pro as well. The battle animations, anime cutscenes, and portraits breathe life into the game.

Persona 5 Royal_20200308234501

Persona 5 Royal also boasts an exceptional soundtrack. Jazz, rock, and J-Pop all meld together perfectly. Shoji Meguro also composed for Persona 3 and Persona 4 and now brings a more smooth jazz style to P5. Honestly, this could be the greatest soundtrack I have ever heard.

Gameplay

The turn-based Persona gameplay continues its traditions here. You can attack, cast spells, gun down your enemies, and even hold them up. What I love about Royal includes some of the new improvements. You no longer need ammo for your guns, you can unleash powerful Technical attacks, and it features the new Showtime abilities which are both powerful and incredibly flashy. These become your finisher attacks that occur during a desperate situation and work to even the odds in your favor.

Persona 5 Royal rewards players who pursue building their social links. It’s incredibly beneficial to boost them with party members and NPCs alike. Whether it’s to add to your battle repertoire or so party members can shield you from lethal attacks, this game rewards the notion that you go out of your way to care about your allies.

The calendar system progression offers you a set amount of days to complete all your tasks. Knowing which social links to manage becomes entirely up to you. In fact, you choose how to spend every day of your life. Whether you want to boost a social link or boost a social skill, you can talk to allies, eat at restaurants, or even invite them to mini-games. The level of variety in this game offers you a bevy of fun activities with the dialogue that goes with it.

Also, while Persona has a history with randomly generated dungeons, Persona 5 added Palaces. These feel more like your traditional dungeons which feature puzzle-solving elements. As Phantom Thieves, you’ll also engage in stealth gameplay while you hide from and ambush Shadows.

Mementos, the randomly generated dungeon, also features a complete overhaul. In addition to new songs playing at deeper levels, you meet a new character – Jose – who shows up as a merchant. You’ll collect flowers and stamps in order to buy items and boost your EXP, Money, or Item Gain in Mementos. This alone makes it a major step up from the previous release’s Mementos.

Value

Persona 5 Royal is important for the JRPG fan, the Persona newcomer, and even the Persona 5 fan. Newer fans will certainly appreciate one of the greatest JRPGs out there while veteran Persona 5 fans can unearth dozens of hours of new content. Royal features a full-on story expansion that offers new social links, mini-games, activities, unlockables, and an entire third semester.

This comes along with various improvements to battle gameplay, exploration, and the abilities you gain. To be honest, I found Persona 5 to already be a near-perfect game. Doing the unthinkable is to polish it and add more to a game I already valued so highly.

If I had to say I had any gripes with Persona 5 Royal, it’s that it can admittedly become too easy. Even if you download the DLC Personas in the Velvet Room, that alone is not enough to break the player. You’ll still need to be on your toes so you don’t get one-shotted or ambushed.

However, strategic management of social links will allow you to gain these high-level Personas sooner. Meanwhile, your continued support of your allies, especially NPC social links, will grant you abilities that will significantly boost you against powerful enemies. By the time I finished the third palace, I was playing on Merciless difficulty and died only a small handful of times.

Despite this, Persona 5 Royal offers a level of flexibility that can enable players to become godlike or even balance their challenge. While you can, in fact, become quite broken partially due to DLC Personas, it’s entirely up to you whether you choose to or not. Even then, you will surely face challenging bosses and need to keep your guard up from enemies who can KO your protagonist in a fell swoop.

Final Thoughts

I cannot say enough good things about Persona 5 Royal. It might be quite possibly the greatest JRPG, if not the greatest game, I have ever played. The 172 hours I spent immersing myself in this experience is among the greatest I’ve ever enjoyed in a game. I’ve played countless hours of other JRPGs, including Persona 3 and 4, and I’m not sure if anything will ever be possible to top this.

Nothing feels quite as immersive as getting to live as your character, indulge in social links, and invite them to play darts or pool while boosting your stats along with them. Everything you do grants incentive and rewards the player. This includes anything from building social links to implementing battle strategies. The gorgeous, shiny graphics, the beautiful soundtrack that accompanies you, and your daily life brings immense levels of world-building within your little corner of Tokyo.

Overall, this is a must-play for any RPG fan including, again, those who played the original Persona 5. The amount of content far surpasses the price tag while the quality improvements raise the bar to the highest possible standard. With that being said, I hope you will enjoy this game as much as I did.

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Madoka Magica, Bravely Default, and the Relationship Between the Two.

Puella Magi: Madoka Magica is an anime, written by Gen Urobuchi, which was developed by studio Shaft in 2011. This dark, enchanting tale told of teenage girls who were lured into becoming magical girls once tempted by fate. Their dark struggles became gruesome as they realized that they were being used.

Meanwhile, when Square-Enix and Silicon Studio developed the Japanese RPG, Bravely Default, in 2014, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two. While I beat Bravely Default before I watched Madoka, the similarities became more noticeable the further I watched the latter. For fans of either, check out what makes these two similar below.

Be wary of spoilers for both series.

Airy and Kyubey

Art by Adeshark. Please visit the author’s page here.

In Madoka, Kyubey, the small, cat-like mascot talks to the girls. He entices them to become magical girls in order to grant their wishes. Later, his purpose is revealed as a soul-harvester. Revealing Kyubey as the antagonist was a shocking turn for many as few would expect the cute mascot to be capable of evil.

Similarly, in Bravely Default, Airy, the small cryst-fairy guides the party towards rejuvenating the crystals. However, I caught her one-track mindedness to be suspicious during the Fire Crystal arc. I noticed Airy became more obsessed with the crystals than rescuing a young child from a mine.

True to my suspicions, late in the game, she’s revealed to be the true antagonist. She’s the cause of mass genocide and serves the demon lord, Ouroboros, to break his seal and set him upon the world. Despite this, they wrote Airy cleverly in as a supporting character while subtly hinting she could be your enemy.

Both of these characters are revealed as traitors despite their unsuspecting appearances. Few people expected either of them to be powerful, malevolent forces. Only when you learn the truth does it become too late to turn back the clock.

Witches and Ba’als

The witches in Bravely were oddly-shapen monsters trapped in labyrinths. These were later revealed to be the corrupted souls of former magical girls. Their labyrinths spawned from a twisted cognition of reality.

Similarly, the Ba’als (known as Nemesis in Bravely Default) were corrupted, twisted memories. These were later identified as Ba’als which came from the moon in the sequel, Bravely Second. Unlike the witches, these came from the corrupted dreams spawned by a major character.

In both cases, these powerful creatures are fought within a twisted dimension from reality. You can see a semblance of real life within the scenery. But the colorful, blotter-art dimensions and macabre enemies bring together similarities.

Time-Traveling Savior

Both Madoka and Bravely feature a time-traveler, clad in black, to prevent the worst from happening. In Madoka, Homura Akemi was Kyubey’s victim. Her time ability allowed her to go back to try and save Madoka, time and time again, while failing with each attempt. Despite originally being depicted as the antagonist, the story later showcased Homura as Madoka’s friend.

Likewise, Alternis Dim, the Dark Knight, battles the party to stop them from achieving from their goal. The party member, Ringabel, is later revealed to have been Alternis Dim from another universe. Much like Homura, he is also a victim of the aforementioned antagonist. As Alternis, his personality was changed and he lost his memory.

Interestingly enough, both focal characters of the stories are fated to die. Madoka becomes a Magical Girl while Agnes becomes the Vestal of Wind. Both would fall victim to their respective antagonists.

Notable Points

While the first two and a half episodes felt pretty droning and typical moe cuteness, the end of Episode 3 caught me completely off guard. It was dark, gruesome, and changed the tone of the entire series.

Likewise, Bravely Default did this several times. Several of the Asterisk arcs, such as Summoner Mephilia’s, took an incredibly dark turn. Bravely Default starts off as a fairly typical JRPG but ends up shocking the player on multiple occasions.

One lovable thing about the Bravely series is its amount of references and homages to other series. The Enopu Mushroom, for instance, even features a lore description that references the Super Mario series. The crystals themselves also reference Square-Enix’s headline series, Final Fantasy.

It isn’t far-fetched to say that Bravely Default took notable cues out of anime. The game was even composed by REVO, who composed the openings for Attack on Titan and Sailor Moon Crystal. Moreover, Bravely Second also features an arc where a character saved his young son’s life by sealing his soul inside a suit of armor. This serves as a nod to the anime and manga Fullmetal Alchemist.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoyed Bravely Default, I strongly suggest playing Bravely Second and Octopath Traveler which were also made by the same developers. Furthermore, Bravely Default II comes out for Switch supposedly later this year. Keep an eye out on our site for the latest updates on Square-Enix’s and Team Asano‘s next JRPG.

If you enjoy our content, be sure to follow our social media links below. Continue following us for more anime, video games, and cosplay content. Finally, if you enjoyed what you read and want to point out any more similarities, be sure to leave a reply in the comments!

What Are You Playing? – 8/17/20

Welcome to the newest column for All Cool Things. I’m starting a new column blog where I discuss what I’m clearing off my backlog every week! If you find something you’re playing on our list, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Without further adieu…

Tekken 7

I’m no pro at Tekken. I love the character design, music, and gameplay. But I’ve never really played it competitively.

However, I live in a part of Georgia that plays it heavily. It’s one of our top 3 fighting games along with Street Fighter V and Dragon Ball FighterZ. I managed to host a 10-player tournament once but I didn’t compete in it.

Despite that, I’m on a Trophy run right now. I hate admitting that I play a fighting game casually. But I’m trying to finish collecting Trophies. I’ve done all the single-player mode achievements. The 3 Special Battles one was detestably long and random.

The only Trophies I have left are the 1 Ranked Match, 10 Ranked Matches, and win a tournament battle. I main Miguel and he’s the only one I play. I’m vaguely familiar with his style yet I haven’t even incorporated Savage Stance into it yet. Despite being new to the competitive meta, I’ve already managed to send one ragequitter packing.

Did I mention I met Katsuhiro Harada, creator of Tekken, at Final Round 2016?

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir

Even though it came out in 2007 for PS2, I always wanted to play this game. I loved Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown for PS3. Ever since I played Dragon’s Crown, I’ve become a huge fan of George Kamitami’s work.

Right now I’m still only on the Valkyrie story. I love hearing all the familiar voices from the games I recently played. It might be because both Persona and Odin Sphere are developed and published by Atlus that these games share voice actors.

This game still looks beautiful as heck. Even with the remastered visuals, though, I can still tell this is a PS2 title by the mouth movement animations. That’s not a bad thing by any means.

Moreover, I can tell how much Odin Sphere influenced Dust: An Elysian Tail which is one of my favorite indie games. The hand-drawn style and 2D beat ’em up gameplay both showcase similarities between the two.

Once I beat Odin Sphere, I plan to jump onto Muramasa Rebirth for PS Vita. I had the Wii version but sold it shortly after I played it. But now I can try the definitive version of Muramasa before Atlus’ next game, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim comes out.

On that note, it makes me wish Princess Crown got localized.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

As always, I’m playing Smash. I don’t get how I can’t let this game go. Even though everyone hates online mode – and rightfully so – I can’t seem to stop logging onto Elite Smash, play a few rounds, and call it a day.

Who I’m currently playing as online.

Despite everyone’s online complaints, Nintendo did manage to patch the game’s online. However, this was honestly too vague to decipher what they meant by patching the online experience. We know it isn’t rollback netcode. But at the least, Nintendo also said they would continue patching the game’s online mode.

Fire Emblem Heroes

Did you know I enjoy gacha? Yeah, only this one and maybe a little bit of Dr. Mario World. Even as gorgeous as the Final Fantasy gacha titles look, I’m not allowing myself to get hooked on another one. That especially goes for spending any money on them.

I’m so far behind that I haven’t played much since the latest update. I’m probably missing out on a ton of orbs. Unfortunately, not only is the Pirate banner the only one that interests me, but I haven’t landed a solid 5-star in weeks now.

It’s demoralizing to the point I hardly care. Moreover, none of them give you the 40 summons + 1 free one. Why even introduce this feature if you’re not going to implement it every month? Good thing I didn’t subscribe to Feh Pass.

…Although I admit that my lazy self could also use those continuous auto-battle features. Not to mention I’ve been tempted to buy those beautiful Resplendent units.

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

Finally, after beating Persona 5 Royal, I’m ready to commit to another long game. I haven’t touched a Yakuza title since Yakuza Kiwami 2. I plan on beating this one before I move onto Judgment. Then I’ll start Yakuza Remastered Collection afterward.

I love Fist of the North Star. I finished the anime series before FotNS2. Yakuza is filled with references to the series so it doesn’t surprise me that RGG Studios would want to adapt Fist of the North Star into a game.

I’m only past the intro but it’s fun so far. It’s standard Yakuza side-quests and beat ’em up action with tons of violence. Plus I’m using the Kiryu skin. Interesting fact, Kiryu’s Japanese voice actor is also Kenshiro’s. It fits perfectly all things considered.

Well, that’s a wrap for my play log this week. Maybe one day I’ll finally get back to Dragon Quest IV. I would like to play the rest of the series.

In the meantime, what are you playing this week? Reply with your games in the comments below.

Dragon Quest XI S Coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.

Last week, Square-Enix confirmed that Dragon Quest XI S would come to major consoles and PC later this year. Originally released in the west, in 2018, Dragon Quest XI came out to rave reviews when it debuted on the PlayStation 4 and PC. While the original Japanese version came out for 3DS, Square-Enix prepared a re-release for the title shortly after its overseas debut.

Dragon Quest XI S, a Nintendo Switch exclusive re-release, featured the 2D mode showcased in the Japanese 3DS version. However, this version of the game also added new cutscenes, storylines, bosses, and even endings to the game. This stellar level of content warranted a replay for veteran fans while introducing new ones to a fantastic JRPG. However, the latest announcement by Square-Enix ensures that Dragon Quest XI S will now be playable for owners of any modern console.

The Significance of Dragon Quest XI S

This title showcased a phenomenal level of polish from a 110-hour game. While America always struggled to embrace Japan’s long-loved series, Square-Enix added an extra dose of marketing to appeal to a larger fanbase. However, Nintendo took it even a step further the following year.

In 2019, Nintendo announced Dragon Quest XI S for Nintendo Switch. This is followed by E3 2019 where Nintendo features the game’s Hero as a new character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Shortly after, they would follow it with a new trailer for the game. Upon its release, Square-Enix would later go onto mention the game succeeded.

For PlayStation and PC fans, this is a return to form with new content not featured in the original release. For Xbox fans, this is the debut of Dragon Quest. This is also the first JRPG featuring Akira Toriyama’s creative designs since Blue Dragon released on Xbox 360 in 2007. Ultimately, everyone can now enjoy the definitive edition of this legendary title.

Final Thoughts

I found Dragon Quest XI to be one of the best games I ever played. I personally rank it up with Persona 5 Royal as one of the best JRPGs of the current generation. Its charming character design, writing, aesthetics, and battle system all hit excel points. It never forced level grinding, save for an optional encounter, and proved to have a solid challenge for those who sought it.

I did not play Dragon Quest XI S, however, as I felt satisfied with my first playthrough of the original release. Despite this, I’m currently entertaining myself with Persona 5 Royal which grants me a 100+ hour replay after beating Persona 5. With that being said, I can’t say I’m not considering playing through Dragon Quest XI S at some point.

If you’re looking for a title that paces itself well, both in story and in gameplay, Square-Enix’s masterpiece will suit your needs. It’s a worthy addition to anyone’s library. With the multiplatform release of the Definitive Edition, I strongly recommend playing this title.

Dragon Quest XI S comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on December 4th, 2020. You can pre-order the game now. Be sure to follow up with us on AllCoolThings by following our social media pages below!

The Five Times That Video Games Stood Up Against Prejudice and Oppression.

Given the current events and following the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we want to dedicate this piece to the protesters fighting for human rights. We’ll feature five stories in video games where characters stood up against authority figures who spread nothing but lies, hatred, and ruled with an iron fist. These uplifting stories of rebellion will hopefully bring some peace of mind and a brighter outlook on the future.

Please keep in mind that the following game sections contain spoilers. If you see the game’s title and are even mildly curious, I strongly suggest buying them.

Final Fantasy X

The Al-Bhed people were shunned by the followers of Yu Yevon, the guardian deity of the world of Spira. However, throughout the game, you begin to notice corruption within the church of Yevon. As your team became branded enemies of Yevon, the Al Bhed came to your rescue. This aid came, in no small part thanks, to Rikku, the Al Bhed girl that you befriended early on in the game.

 

This connection bridges the party to the Al Bhed working together for a better cause. Even though the Yevon loyalists in the party, such as Wakka, initially reject such a radical change, they eventually warm up to the Al Bhed. Eventually, you join up with them in a united effort to save Spira, using their machina to destroy Sin, and set a new course for the world.

Tales of Symphonia

From the beginning of the game, you befriend Genis and Raine, your elf friends. Only later do you learn that they were half-elves, a being repressed throughout Sylvarant and Tethe’alla due to their mixed heritage.

While their secret comes out later in the game, the protagonist, Lloyd, still unites his friends and continues his journey to save both worlds. Genis, despite saying he hates humans, reassures Lloyd he’s still his best friend. Even when the mayor of the town, Iselia, preaches his racism towards your half-elven party members, the people stand against him.

Regarding the overarching storyline, you later learn that the Sylvarant’s folk hero and eventual antagonist, Mithos, began his entire crusade because of the half-elven oppression and the death of his sister, Martel.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

“Sub-humans.” That was the word used to describe the laguz, or beastkin people, in Tellius. The country of Gallia waged battles with the beorc, or humans, and faced discrimination simply due to their appearance. When Ike fought against the Daein army, he traveled to Gallia, which he later learned was his birthplace. Throughout his travels, he encountered new laguz friends, united them for the cause of liberating the country of Crimea, and took down the Mad King Ashnard.

The story comes full-circle when Ike would unite the Tellius continent once more to defeat the Begnion Senate and their army. Near the end of the game, Ike’s forces, the Greil Mercenaries, defeat Senator Lekain and the Begnion Senate, ending a decades-long struggle between Begnion’s iron grip and the laguz who fought against their oppression.

Persona 5

Persona 5’s story tackles sensitive social issues. Authority figures who bully, exploit, and even murder become the victim of the Phantom Thieves’ vengeance. The whole point of the story is to help your friends rebel against oppressive authority figures and, as they join you, take the fight against other horrible people in Tokyo.

You’ll enter their cognitive Palaces, fight their Shadows, and change their conscience. Doing so will change their heart, forcing them to own up, confess their crimes, and relinquish their positions of power.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Three Houses marked the third Fire Emblem game where racial injustice became a major focal point of the plot. Claude, one of the House leaders, wants to unite Fodlan. He does so due to his Almyran background. The people of Almyra, dark-skinned warriors, faced oppression from the Fodlan continent for decades.

When joining the Golden Deer route, you’ll fight alongside Claude and his quest to reform Fodlan’s government. This includes allying with the church, the enemy of the Black Eagles route, and uniting your forces against the Adrestian Empire and Those Who Slither in the Dark.

 

Final Thoughts

For anyone keeping up with the protests, we’ve all gone through a tough time. Supporting our fellow human beings, including those who are different from ourselves, becomes an important cause in these times. Hopefully, this list helps inspire you with these courageous stories of people fighting alongside friends and make the world a better place.

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Interested in Donating?

Know Your Rights Camp – Started by Colin Kaepernick, this camp helps empower teens and meets three cities, at the moment:  Atlanta, Baltimore, and Miami.

 

Want to Donate, but Not for the Cause?

HFC (Hilarity for Charity) – Founded by Seth Rogen and Laura Miller Rogen, this non-profit helps spread awareness about Alzheimers, as well as funding research.

 

History Lesson: Persona 3, Persona 4, and Atlus’ Localization Changes

With the recent releases of Catherine: Full Body, and Persona 5 Royal, developer Atlus fell under scrutiny due to notable censorship of these two fabled titles. In the case of Catherine, a bit of controversy emerged from dead-naming a trans-female character. In Persona 5 Royal’s case, Atlus chose to change a scene where Ryuji got hit on by homosexual men. This created outrage from various sides of the fanbase to include responding by boycotting the game.

While many fans of Atlus’ games got their start to the series with Persona 5, their past titles showcased scenes that might be deemed “not kosher” in today’s political climate. While Catherine was originally released in 2011, and Persona 5 came out in 2017, Atlus deemed it necessary to edit the re-releases’ scenes to acclimate the changing internet culture. One example of these past titles includes 2007’s Persona 3. I’ll outline a few scenes that, while some viewers may find innocuous or humorous, might also raise a few eyebrows.

Persona 3

During a trip to the beach, three of the male characters decide to go on a “babe hunt.” This means they will flirt with women on the beach in hopes of getting a date. While their first two attempts end up getting blown up in their faces, the third option starts off successfully.

The scene begins at 5:06 when Akihiko and Junpei make their pass at a woman. All is going well until Akihiko points out what is implied to be a stray beard hair. This outs the character as trans. However, while the identification itself isn’t so much noteworthy, she also comments how close she was to snagging a “boy-toy.” This implies the character to be promiscuous and predatory, seeking to date someone and trap them.

Persona 4

In the month of June, three male characters once again go on a “babe hunt,” this time in the city of Okina. While their efforts end with their rejection, one character seems to get catfished with the number he got. The number he calls belongs to a classmate, Hanako Ohtani, who is morbidly obese and unattractive.

At 14:00, you’ll meet the girl who follows the stereotypes of “selfish, ugly, fat girl.” She suddenly invites herself to Yosuke’s bike and breaks it by jumping on it.

Days later, you meet her again on a camping trip. She’s unwilling to share her massive portion of food and snores loudly at night. At 7:14, Yosuke asks her for food, only to be turned away. At 14:21, the snoring ensues.

Also note that the Persona wiki deems that there is another overweight character in an earlier game, Persona 2, who’s said to be treated more sensitively. However, if you look through the gallery, you’ll notice that she ends up losing weight at some point in the game, perhaps used as a sort of redeeming quality to her appearance. Once again, many players deem this scene normal and humorous. Others, however, might consider this fat-shaming.

How has censorship changed the landscape for gaming?

Moving slightly off the Atlus subject for a minute, keep in mind how much the political climate has changed in just the past 5 years. Nintendo censored Fire Emblem Fates, Fatal Frame, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and the recent Tokyo Mirage Sessions release on Switch. They even censored Bernadetta’s Support conversation in Fire Emblem: Three Houses in a recent patch as well as replaced a voice actor due to his history of abuse. Another smaller example would be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s censorship of Mithra, from Xenoblade Chronicles 2. However, Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, explained in the past that he had to censor female characters or else the game’s CERO rating would raise.

Sony has also taken measures, in their recent policies, to censor or not release games in the west. Among these include longtime favorite series from Japan, such as Senran Kagura and Dead or Alive.

How this affects Atlus’ games.

Persona 3 and Persona 4 were released before the days of digital patches and updates. The aforementioned scenes fell in with cultural humor considered normal for its release. While the scenes were likely created with humor and no harm intended, reflect on censored games in the past few years. They might not pass the litmus test to be released without various amounts of editing to be re-released in the west today.

In my personal case, I played Persona 5 before going back to 3 and 4. Knowing of the censorship of Persona 5 and watching the aforementioned scene, it immediately crossed my mind. “They probably wouldn’t be allowed to get away with this today,” I thought as I watched the scenes. Granted, I could be entirely wrong, but I could also see why groups on social media could create an issue out of it.

However, please consider that Atlus has done a tremendous job of gracefully touching social issues. They tackle one character’s insecure homosexuality in Persona 4 and allow his newfound friends to accept him for who he is. Persona 5 deftly tackled issues of bullying, sexual assault, exploitation, plagiarism, suicide, blackmail, sex work, and trauma. The story revolves around punishing abusive adults, and removing them from power, while exposing their crimes for the world to see.

Some parts of the internet argue Atlus is insensitive with handling certain characters. Others praise the series for its deft handling of social issues. However, perhaps the most important thing to consider is the gray area. It becomes paramount to educate other players on the importance of accepting other people, for who they are. This falls in regardless of whether a publisher will cater to the whims of one side or the other. A black and white difference encourages fighting among fanbases whereas a gray area brings players together for a common cause: respect for other viewpoints.

Final Thoughts

Given the recent examples, scenes that involve alleged transphobia, fat-shaming, deadnaming, and homophobia are indeed hot-button issues. It’s easy for a few articles to argue one side, attack the other, and create social media fighting while doing so. However, this article does not serve to cater to any side, but to serve as a history lesson on Atlus’ titles and how recent localization policies affect social media as well as game re-releases. If you’re a fan of Persona 5, or Catherine, and did not know about these scenes in Persona 3 and Persona 4, then hopefully this enlightened you with a bit of trivia.

Also, on last personal note, Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden are wonderful JRPGs that I strongly recommend getting. If you enjoyed Persona 5, please give them a try one day!

Do you feel these issues are worth addressing for game releases or do you feel they’re blown out of proportion? Let us know in the comments below!

Celebrating Fire Emblem’s 30th Anniversary.

On April 20th, 1990, Nintendo released Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light for the Famicom. The Japanese Strategy/RPG series followed with several installments that never came to U.S. shores until the 7th entry. Thanks to Marth and Roy’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001), and largely due to fan demand to release the series outside of Japan, Nintendo would eventually release Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade (2003) in the west for Game Boy Advance.

Why do people love Fire Emblem?

Perhaps one of the most defining traits of Fire Emblem is its character design. Super Smash Bros. Melee created icons out of Marth and Roy. But the series is widely known for its colorful artwork and memorable character designs. While the fantasy storyline tasked you with saving the world, you would also learn about the backstories of your comrades-in-arms.

Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade quickly became popular thanks to its addictive Strategy/RPG (SRPG) gameplay. The grid-based gameplay offered movement similar to Chess. However, the level of flexibility and variety Fire Emblem offered, in its map design, classes, and overall gameplay, resonated well with fans.

But Fire Emblem introduced the permadeath mechanic. Lose a unit and they will stay dead. Your option would be either to press forward without them or restart the entire map and give them another chance. Note that later games, from Awakening onward, became much more forgiving in that department.

While the west had seen other SRPGs, such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, and Shining Force, prior to Blazing Blade’s release, Fire Emblem offered more to the genre. Fire Emblem quickly became known for its addictive gameplay. You could promote your units, earning a new weapon and more powerful stats. Plus you could support units, growing their bonds, and even giving them a special ending together. Blazing Blade featured several difficulty modes, including one that let you play through Hector’s Route. This began a series tradition where you could replay a title to see another part of the story.

Additionally, Fire Emblem is known for its remarkable storytelling. Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn speak of relevant, worldly themes such as racial and class divide. It showcases horrors of war and even pit former friends against each other, something you would see in Fates and Three Houses. Even the Japanese-exclusive titles, like Genealogy of the Holy War, weren’t afraid to showcase dark themes, such as incest and genocide.

Fire Emblem also gained recognition for its music. The map, battle, and recruitment themes all share special recognition. Many of them appeared as remixes in the Super Smash Bros. series. “Together We Ride,” the recruitment theme from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, stood out as being one of the most famous due to its inclusion in Melee.

Decline and Rise

Despite several releases appearing in the west, none of them sold as well as Blazing Blade. In fact, the remake of Mystery of the Emblem, for DS, never came to America. Plus, due to its poor sales, the series began a major decline. It was thanks to every possible effort by developer Intelligent Systems and Nintendo to make Awakening the success it would become. What could have been the final game in the series breathed new life into Fire Emblem.Thanks to heavy marketing, new mechanics, and broadening the fanbase, Fire Emblem: Awakening would go on to become the series best-selling title. It would later be succeeded by Fire Emblem Fates, also released for 3DS. Nintendo would continue to appeal to fans, and reel in new fans, with spin-offs, such as the free-to-play mobile title, Fire Emblem Heroes, which was released in 2017.

Most recently, Nintendo released Fire Emblem: Three Houses, for Nintendo Switch, in summer of last year. The title features over 100 hours of gameplay and story and quickly became one of the Switch’s most successful titles. Among its accolades includes a score of 89, at Metacritic, and winning the Player’s Voice award at last year’s Game Awards. Additionally, Three Houses’ success would also influence Nintendo’s decision to include Byleth into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

How is Nintendo celebrating?

In Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo has released a new orb banner celebrating the 30th anniversary. This includes a throwback, of sorts, to Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. These two stories feature Marth and the origin of the series. Keep in mind that Mystery of the Emblem’s “Book I” is a remake of Shadow Dragon, for the Super Famicom (SNES), while Book II continues the story after.

In this banner, you can summon childhood versions of Marth, Caeda, Merric, Palla, and recruit Minerva as a free unit. As a duo-unit, Palla also comes with her little sisters, Catria and Est. This throwback also features maps based on the original Shadow Dragon. Nintendo will continue posting updates on their social media channels for Fire Emblem Heroes. Keep up to date with their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts for more info.

Additionally, Nintendo and Cygames’s collaborative mobile JRPG, Dragalia Lost, will also hold another Fire Emblem crossover. While the series has crossed over in the past with Fire Emblem, as well as Mega Man, this event will also center around the series’ 30th anniversary. You can check it out in the tweet below.

How are the fans celebrating?

Twitter has already begun trending #FireEmblem to celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary. If you search for the trend, you will find numerous works of fanart and cosplay dedicated to the series. Be sure to check them out!

Meanwhile, some of the series’ voice actors are also celebrating the anniversary.

Many players will surely celebrate Fire Emblem’s 30th anniversary by clearing routes in Three Houses. I, for one, hope to clear my Golden Deer run before the month ends. Also, if you own Three Houses but haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the Cindered Shadows DLC from the Three Houses Expansion Pass, which released earlier this year!

How are you celebrating the 30th anniversary of Fire Emblem? What’s your favorite game in the series? Let us know in the comments below.

Atlus Encourages Players to Demand Persona 5 for Nintendo Switch

Atlus Calls for Action

With the release of Persona 5 Royal only a month away, Atlus West – the publisher of the illustrious Persona series – began a campaign to encourage players to ask for a Switch release.  IGN asked Atlus Community Manager, Ari Advincula, about Persona 5 coming to Nintendo Switch. Her response was, “I am a strong believe in ‘never give up on hope’.” Featured on Reddit, the thread received over 16K upvotes. While Persona has maintained being a Playstation-exclusive franchise, Atlus has released spin-offs of the series on Nintendo systems. Among them include Persona Q and Persona Q2 for 3DS and the upcoming Persona 5 Scramble – a Musou title – for Nintendo Switch later this year.  More notably, however, the protagonist from Persona 5 made his debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, last year, as a DLC character. Put together, all of these elements have perpetuated hope for the award-winning RPG to come to Nintendo’s console. As of February 16th, #BreakFreePersona was trending on Twitter. The social media movement garnered a huge following with players demanding Atlus release Persona 5 Royal on Nintendo Switch. For Smash Bros. fans who do not own a PS4, it would become a capital investment for Atlus to introduce Joker fans to his home game for the first time.  As has been the case for over two decades, Super Smash Bros. serves to market characters and games to players from the games they were originally from. Note that Cloud appeared in Super Smash Bros. before Final Fantasy VII ever came to a Nintendo system. Yet, while even Final Fantasy VII is now available on Nintendo Switch, Atlus currently shows no signs of releasing Persona 5 Royal on the system.

Atlus Titles on Nintendo Switch

In the meantime, Atlus has recently re-released their Wii U title, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, for Nintendo Switch. Also noteworthy is, despite their strong line of games for the 3DS, Atlus has yet to make an update regarding Shin Megami Tensei V, which was first revealed several years ago. With that said, we’ll keep you updated on the news regarding Persona 5 Royal for Nintendo Switch. Have you played Persona 5 before? Would you like it to come to Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the comments below!