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Review: Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

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The heroes from the Final Fantasy series cannot catch a break. Having been sent to a paradise world to rest from their battles, they discover that monsters have infiltrated said paradise. It’s up to them to band together and fight…again.

Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia is a game for iOS and Android devices, recently launched in the United States. (It’s been running in Japan since early 2017.) Dissidia has become a crossover subseries of the larger Final Fantasy franchise. It started out with two games on the PSP, followed by the Theatrhythm music games on the Nintendo 3DS, and now an arcade version on the PlayStation 4, titled Dissida NT. They essentially exist to throw the major Final Fantasy heroes and villains together in one universe to battle it out.

In the first two PSP games, the heroes and villains wake up in a strange world with no memories of their previous adventures.  They have a vague idea of who they used to be, and they know that they have homes they want to see again, but that’s it.  The goddess of harmony, Cosmos, and the god of discord, Chaos, enlist them to fight in a great battle for control of the universe.  The characters strike alliances with one another and grapple with various personal issues while trying to end the conflict for good.

Theatrhythm pretty much kicked the plot out the door from the get-go. Technically, the heroes are fighting Chaos again, but there’s no dialogue between them. You just pick a song from the series and try to keep up with the beats. They’re fun rhythm games and probably my favorite entries in the series, even though they don’t contribute anything to the story.

Now, we have Opera Omnia on mobile phones. This game changes things up by having the characters clearly remember their previous adventures in their home worlds, but have no recollection of their Dissidia battles. If you enjoyed Zidane and Squall’s odd friendship or Vaan saving Terra from Kefka, you’re out of luck.

In this way, Opera Omnia comes off as a soft reboot of the Dissidia series. The game doesn’t solely stick to major heroes and villains. You begin the adventure with Warrior of Light, from the original Final Fantasy, Rem from Type 0, Sazh from Final Fantasy XIII, and Vivi from Final Fantasy IX. As you progress through each chapter of the game, you gain more and more allies in the fight. And there are lots of allies from the entire series. Other characters can be unlocked for a limited time through special event quests. As of this writing, we’ve gotten Squall, Vanille, Setzer, Balthier, Eiko, Tidus, and Prishe in this manner.

Just to give you an idea, my current roster of fighters consists of twenty-eight characters. And I’m still on Chapter 4.

While playing this game, I got the impression that Square-Enix might’ve finally noticed that they’ve been giving Final Fantasy VII a little too much love compared to other entries in the series. While you pick up Cloud, Tifa, and Yuffie early on, they don’t appear as often in cutscenes as Zidane and Vivi from IX. And Final Fantasy VI has started to receive more attention at last. The Japanese version of Opera Omnia already has Terra, Shadow, Setzer, Cyan, Edgar, Sabin, Celes, and Kefka. Considering that the first two games only ever gave us Terra and Kefka as playable characters, that’s impressive.

So, what goal do the heroes need to accomplish this time around? It turns out that the paradise world they inhabit has become infected by “Torsions.” Torsions are basically dark wormholes that spew out monsters. The goddess Materia summons Mog the Moogle to collect warriors who possess the ability to seal the Torsions. Then the worlds can finally be at peace.

Did you understand all of that? Well, don’t worry if you didn’t. Mog and co. will repeat this information many, many, many times. It reminds me of The Room, the greatest bad movie of all time, where characters would often repeat dialogue and have the same conversations. But at least in The Room, the writing was so bad that it was funny. With these games, the writing’s just competent enough that it’s more annoying than funny.

And that’s always been a problem with the Dissidia series. I remember playing Duodecim for the first time and loving it. Yet as I got further and further into the story, I groaned every time someone brought up the manikins- the game’s enemies- which was often. “These manikins are everywhere!” “How do we stop the manikins?” “Oh no, here come more manikins!” “If we don’t stop the manikins, we’re all going to die!” “BUT HOW DO WE STOP THE MANIKINS???” Replace “manikins” with “Torsions” and you get the same problem in Opera Omnia.

It’s not all bad though. There’s a mini-arc of trying to catch and recruit Yuffie after she steals some of the party’s weapons- and then Zidane, who has acted very upset about losing his dagger, decides he’s going to flirt with her anyway. There’s another cutscene that consists of nothing but Zidane trying cheesy pickup lines on every female member in the party, with no success. And Chapter 3 has the heroes grappling with whether or not to join forces with Seifer and his friends. On the one hand, they seem to be fighting a common enemy. On the other hand, the two groups can’t stand each other and eventually decide to go their separate ways. This has always been the strongest aspect of Dissdia: when the writers indulge in the appeal of the crossover and have fun letting the characters bounce off of each other.

While the strength of the writing fluctuates, the battle system is a fun throwback to older Final Fantasy games that successfully mixes in some of Dissidia’s style as well. You get three party members who face off against enemies in turn-based combat. There are two types of attacks that can be used: Bravery and HP. The amount of Bravery that your character obtains determines how powerful your HP attacks will be. So, if your character has 0 Bravery, and you hit an enemy with an HP attack, the enemy will take no damage. This leaves some room for strategizing how you will attack enemies.

That said, as much as I love having so many characters at my disposal, it does make leveling up more of a pain. The game developers made an attempt to fix the problem by giving out extra rewards on certain quests if you use a particular character. You can also gain more experience on quests by using certain characters. Still, it’s a struggle, and it would help if the new characters you acquire throughout the story didn’t always start at Level 1, no matter where you are. It would make more sense to have them at different levels depending on when you acquire them, like other Final Fantasy games have done in the past.

Since this is a free-to-play game, Opera Omnia does rely on microtransactions to some degree. The quickest way to acquire the best weapons and armor comes from the Weekly Draws and Event Draws. You can either pull for one weapon using a Draw Ticket or eleven weapons using 5,000 gems. You earn gems and tickets by logging into the game and completing various tasks. Or you can go to the Gem Shop and buy them.

The game gives you different purchase options, from a Bronze Chest that gives you 120 gems for $0.99, to an Adamant Chest that gives you 12,000 gems for $74.99. I can’t imagine spending $75 in one transaction for fake money, and for a deal that only allows you two pulls from one of the draws, it doesn’t seem worth it. But I’ve found the game to be playable without drawing for weapons very much. Time will tell if that changes as I get farther and farther into the story and the difficulty increases. It’s also worth noting that you can enhance your weapons yourself with materials that you find. But if you want good weapons fast, the draws are your best bet.

So far, Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia has been a fun experience and I enjoy playing it. I can’t wait to see what other characters get added to the lineup. (Locke? Rinoa? Where are you?) While the plot is still a little weak, I love watching the characters play off of each other and setting up a party for turn-based combat. If you’re a fan of any of the Final Fantasy games, it’s most likely that you will enjoy it too.

10 Things That Happened at Too Many Games 2017

Vanri and Crymson went to TooManyGames 2017! Here are some of what they experienced:

10) Vanri went to her first convention! She loved it, we got her a shirt.

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9) So many amazing cosplays!

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8) After forever, we finally ACTUALLY interviewed +2 Comedy… those nerds!

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7) ALL THE GAMES! So many amazing indie games to see and love.

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6) I played a game I’ve been waiting a year to play and didn’t suck.

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5) Got my hands on a board game I’ve been waiting a year for! For FREE!

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4) Cosplay Pro Wrestling!

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3) The most amazing Pyramid Head Cosplay, I’ve ever seen.

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2) Keith Apicary made me nearly pee myself.

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1) MrCreepyPasta was amazing to interview and we want to talk to him for hours.

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5 Classic PC Games that are Still Worth a Play

5 Classic PC Games that are Still Worth a Play

Guest Post by: Caroline from Culture Coverage

I would like to thank Real Women of Gaming for publishing this article. They cover everything related to gaming, including conventions and reviews. Check out their Indie Spotlight section if you’re looking for some great new titles to pick up. 

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There’s never been a better time to get into PC gaming. Not only does PC get a majority of the best titles, it also boasts one of the largest catalogs available to users. With hundreds of new games released daily on sites like GOG and Steam, it can be difficult to choose which ones to buy. If you’re not quite sold on the latest releases, why not revisit some of these classic PC games?

StarCraft

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Although not the first real time strategy (RTS) game, it remains one of the most popular PC games even today and has sold over 9 million copies worldwide. It gained a huge following in South Korea, leading to the rise of eSports and the pro-gaming scene. The reason StarCraft stands out against other RTS games of the time is its focus on offering three distinct play styles with the different factions: Zerg, Protoss and Humans. Each faction had different strengths and weaknesses, yet somehow the gameplay managed to be balanced and challenging.

Besides the competitive multiplayer mode, you can also create your own challenge maps or download them if you feel like the game isn’t replayable enough. Before you consider downloading maps off other sites, however, you should first connect to a VPN such as IPVanish as it will encrypt your data and protect you from spam sites. Unfortunately, that has been a problem for some users.

SimCity 2000

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There’s something to be said about SimCity 2000. While not the first of the series, it took the original concept and expanded upon it with new features such as different elevations, underground layers for pipes and subways, and a diametric view. All of these changes improved the overall gameplay experience, making it one of the best simulation games on the market even when compared against more recenttitles. Maxis brought in deeper gameplay and strategy with their improved budget and finance controls. They also included the ability to connect to other cities.

If you get tired of just building up your city, you can also jump into scenarios to rebuild a city after some disaster. Most of these scenarios are based off of real events such as the Oakland firestorm of 1991. The main building mode doesn’t necessarily have an ending, but you can move on to work on a new city. Alternatively, you can unleash your wrath and destroy it with monsters, floods and fires. SimCity 2000 is still incredibly fun to play and even the graphics are acceptable by today’s standards. While not the most realistic game, the pixel art is incredibly detailed and still some of the best in the style.

World of Warcraft

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Say what you will about the game, World of Warcraft remains the most subscribed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) around. Building off of the lore in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (and other games in the series), World of Warcraft continues the story between the Alliance and the Horde. One of the reasons the game remains so popular today is because of its rich story, great balance and ability to play casually or more seriously. As with other MMORPGs, players can customize not only the appearance of their character, but their class and skills as well.

Regardless of what you choose, you can always find other people who have the same interests in terms of gameplay. Many people have started friendships with other players and some have even forged romances in real life. World of Warcraft continues to update their game with expansions and patches to increase and expand content, update graphics, and balance the various classes. While its subscribers might have dropped since its maximum of 12 million players, there are still millions of people playing the game.

Doom

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With the remastered version of Doom now available, you might want to check out the original game that started it all. The graphics definitely don’t hold up to the test of time, but the gameplay is just as frantic and fast. Generally considered the game that pioneered the first-person shooter, Doom introduced a pseudo-3D first-person perspective. This affected both level design and the overall gameplay experience as well. Players can gauge how far away enemies, obstacles and alternative paths are from their position.

Besides the “3D” aspect, Doom also introduced the ability to equip various weapons from a shotgun to rocket launcher, another feature that has become typical for other games within this genre.

Half-Life

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Half-Life 2 might be the more acclaimed game in the series, but if you want to understand Dr. Gordon Freeman’s back story, you’ll want to check out the first in the series. Debuting in 1998, Half-Life took the framework of first-person shooters from Doom and improved upon it with actual 3D graphics and more realistic gameplay.

Although technically a first-person shooter, Half-Life also integrated puzzles for players in order to progress through levels. This differentiated it enough from many other shooters whose sole focus was on defeating enemies. In another departure, the game did not use cut scenes to tell the story. Instead, it used scripted sequences seen through Gordon’s eyes. Many other developers have used a similar mechanic to make the story more immersive and seamless.

There are hundreds of other classic games that still stand the test of time in terms of gameplay. Which ones did we miss? Tell us in the comments below.

About the Author: Caroline is a freelance writer who enjoys all things related to tech and gaming. She’s excited to see how games will change with the advent of new technology like virtual reality, but also doesn’t want to forget the classics.

Free Game Spotlight: Warframe

Free Game Spotlight: Warframe

Dev/Pub: Digital Extremes
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date: Mar. 25, 2013

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Warframe, according to the website, is a free-to-play, co-op action sci-fi game set in an ever-evolving open world. You are a Tenno, a warrior who is able to master the Warframe armor, and you are summoned to save the solar system from the Grineer, who are using their armies to take control.

One thing that makes this game so great is the fact that you have several Warframes to choose from. The Warframe is a suit of armor that protects you from enemies and provides you with unique abilities. It basically makes you the type of character you would like to play. A few examples include: Ash, a stealthy suit with lethal abilities; Atlas, the brawler suit, which can altar the environment with incredible force; Ember, a magic user type suit that uses fire to conquer enemies; and many more.

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There are three factions within the game: the Tenno, the Grineer and the Corpus. The Tenno have been cryogenically frozen for centuries and awake to find that their solar system has been taken over by their sworn enemies, the Grineer. The Grineer are militarized humans who are driven by fear and seek to eliminate the Tenno. Finally, the Corpus are a reclusive faction who seek old and ancient technology in order to build new weapons with which to fight both the Tenno and the Grineer.

When you log in for the first time, you see that the graphics are amazing and the gameplay is smooth. The tutorial mission ends when you find your ship, but, to get there, you have to learn how to fight in both melee and ranged situations, loot, and hardcore parkour. This is definitely an MMO that’s worth checking out.

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You can download it from the Warframe website, Steam, the PlayStation Store (site currently down) and the Xbox Store.

From Table to Real Life: How RPGs Benefit Players

From Table to Real Life: How RPGs Benefit Players

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Tabletop gaming is definitely fun, especially if you find the types of games you really like.  Whether it be RPGs, card games or board games, there is something out there for just about everyone.  Games are also great for teaching skills, and maintaining those skills throughout a person’s life.  It’s a great way to teach children early, and in a fun way, skills that will help them for the rest of their lives.

Creativity and Imagination
You’d be surprised how much being able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems will help you as an adult.  Creativity is not just a great skill for artists, writers, and designers, but anyone who has a job where problem solving is key will benefit from this.  Being able to come up with unorthodox solutions can often be the difference between just having a job and excelling at a career.

It’s a given that creativity and imagination are necessary for artists, writers, and any other job where someone has to create something from out of their mind’s eye.  Gaming, especially the imagination intensive tabletop RPGs like Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons, are a great place to get kids started learning how to tell stories and develop characters with interesting backgrounds and personalities.  Whether it’s creating their own stories as a game master, or acting out the stories of their characters as a player, they’ll get plenty of practice coming up with great tales all on their own.

Art and graphics are another source of inspiration for young people when it comes to tabletop.  There’s few entertainment mediums that have such a plethora of amazing art and graphics design as tabletop games.  Painted, or unpainted miniatures, character sketches, book covers, and playing cards are all great sources of art inspiration.  People literally have an art gallery at their finger-tips whenever they pick up a game, and that can translate to a study and love of art that benefits a lot of creative folks in future years.

Just the Basics
Math and reading, two skills that will serve anyone throughout their lives, are key to almost every game that you’ll come across.  Whether it’s calculating damage and points, or reading rule books to learn a game, tabletop will expand any young person’s skills with both of these.  Often with tabletop games, especially RPGs, people will come across words they’ve never seen, and terminology they won’t come across in school or on their favorite cartoons.  They’ll be exposed to complex ideas and references that may lead them to expand their study into things like history and sociology.

There’s no mistaking the need for even basic math when it comes to gaming.  Even the simplest game mechanic, like keeping score, will often involve addition and subtraction, and while kids are having fun playing a game they won’t even bat an eye that they have to tap into mathematics.  More complicated wargames and RPGs can get into time, distance, area, angles, and the dreaded thac0 formula of Advanced D&D.

Besides math, reading and vocabulary are two basic needs for gaming, and skills that will be vastly improved if this is your hobby.  Even down to the simplest card game, reading is necessary.  Rules, card descriptions, character backgrounds, and stories are all part of gaming.  Even board games have rules and often cards of some sort.  Starting with gaming early is a great way to make reading and learning new words fun.  Get kids involved and you’ll see a marked improvement, as much as you see when you read to, or read with children.  Even in later years gaming helps improve and strengthen vocabulary skills.  I still run into words I don’t often see, and new words I’ve never seen used before.

Socializing
Probably the biggest benefit of tabletop for me has been learning to socialize and break out of my shell.  Often us geeks and nerds, as proud as we are of the things we love, are introverts and quiet individuals.  Young people need socialization, but we tend to think this means sports, playing outside with other kids, or play dates with coworker’s kids.  Not every child is into these things.  Sometimes gaming is what they’re into, and just don’t know it yet.  Learning games with family, or visiting local game shops to learn to play board games might be just what’s needed to crack that shell.

Learning to interact with others in a competitive environment, sportsmanship, losing and winning gracefully isn’t limited to actual sports.  These are important skills to have under our belt when we get out into the real world as well.  Getting and keeping a job, or working in the art fields are competitive.  They don’t have to be negatively so, and teaching kids to compete fairly but also gracefully can mean the difference between success and failure.  Cheating to win can be just as self-destructive as failing and throwing a fit.  With gaming we can find a balance between teaching kids to win and lose, and teach them that having fun is just as important.

Besides the competitive factor, you usually have a group around any game.  Unlike video games, tabletop games are very rarely single-player.  It gets people around tables, talking, laughing, having fun, and most importantly just socializing.  Sometimes finding a way to make a person’s comfort zone also a social affair can bring the extrovert out of the introvert by giving them an environment where they feel at ease.

In the end, gaming may not be for everyone, but I think it’s something a lot of people would enjoy.  I think it’s a great way to help kids develop skills useful in the real world, not just to have fun.  It’s also a fantastic way for adults to hone skills useful in their careers, whether they be in the artistic fields or more run of the mill.  So, get out there, find your niche, and if your kids take an interest in the imaginative hobbies join in the fun.  It makes for some great family time.

Games to Get Excited About in June 2016

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Games to Get Excited About in June 2016

 

Ah, June! June is the unofficial start of summer fun. A month full of promises. Schools are letting out. Father’s day is coming up. What better way to celebrate than with games?  We have so many games releases coming up this month, which is why I’ve decided that, instead of writing about just one game, I’d write about several!

Here are some games, in no real order, to get excited about in June.

Oh My Goods

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Okay, let’s start off with a tabletop game. Oh My Goods is a game set in the Middle Ages. Use your connections to become the most powerful merchant in the land. Only if you are clever will you have the most points at the end of the game. Fun bonus is that the rules are in both English and German.

Anima: Gate of Memories

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Set to be released for PlayStation 4 on June 3rd, Anima: Gate of Memories is a third person RPG. Players get to explore a vast world with dragons. I have read great things about the soundtrack and the story that accompany game play.

 

Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter

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If convenient, play. If not, play anyway. So, I won’t lie, I get excited by the prospect of almost anything Sherlock Holmes related. In true Holmes fashion, the game will be mostly centered on examining crime scenes. Then the player can add clues to the “deduction board.” These deductions  can lead to success in finding the culprit or failure.

Grand Kingdom

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Grand Kingdom is set to be released in North America and Europe this month. It is a tactical RPG. Players get to play turn-based battles with magic and sword attacks depending on the specialties of the combat class the player belongs to. This will be a great game for players who like to think about a big picture, such as how to best position their whole unit.

7 Days to Die

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This is a survival horror game. Set after the third world war, the player is a survivor who must find basic needs, such as food, shelter and water. Players also must scavenge and fight off zombie-like creatures. Oh, did I forget to mention that I read that the zombies get more aggressive over time?

There are so many more interesting games to look forward this month, so keep your eyes peeled for them if you didn’t see something you liked above. Really we are getting spoiled this year between remakes and new releases. Also, if you are looking for a gift, perhaps one of the above would be a good game to give.

Have fun gaming this month, friends!

Indie Developer Support Could Mean Better Games for All

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At the birth of the video game industry, games were made much the same way indie games are made now. Small groups of artists, writers and programmers came together, often with very little money, and big ideas, and created some of the most memorable experiences early gamers had. Some of these games are still remembered today as classics, and the foundation of what we have now. Over the years larger games, larger budgets, and massive enterprises have come to make up the bulk video game industry, but there is still a healthy indie game market that can’t be ignored. As a matter of fact, I think it needs our support to make sure we get better games in the future. I’m going to give you a breakdown of why I think that’s the case, and a few of my concerns over indie studios.

Inspire Innovation

First and foremost, supporting indie devs can mean more innovation in games.  AAA studios and big publishers continue to push out the same old games, with the same stories and mechanics, with few innovations year to year.  They do that because they have to guarantee a return of the huge budgets they have to get to make the games they make.  It’s why we have the same COD game every year, another Battlefield with all its bugs, Halo, Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed and on and on.  Many of these games are fun, people love them, and buy them by the boat-load, but at the end of the day, there’s little difference between each installment of the game.  Companies don’t want to take the risk with so much money involved.

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