Ultima Final Fantasy | The Ultimate Final Fantasy Podcast

Joe and Kaleb Craig explore the Final Fantasy XV Release event. Join us for all the Sean Bean action!

Direct download: minisodeffxvuncoveredi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:27pm MST

This week, we discuss what the optimum length for a Final Fantasy game is. This is a subject of much interest as of late, since the creators of Final Fantasy XV have announced that the campaign will take about fifty hours to complete. This dwarfs many of the rest of the main series, at least where the main campaign is concerned within the Final Fantasy series. We compare this fifty hour game time to our Final Fantasy IX playtime, as Final Fantasy IX is the highest rated in the series. We touch base on what we want as far as story, game play, and side quests to be implemented within Final Fantasy as a whole. We then answer a few great questions from our community members. Enjoy the episode!

Direct download: UFF_97_Length_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am MST

This week, we discuss Masayoshi Sokens history within Square Enix. Enjoy!

Spotlight: Masayoshi Soken

By Joseph DeGolyer

 

Look, it’s hard to follow up after a huge success.

 

To every first generation of Saturday night live hosts, there’s always a second generation.

Like Irvine Kershner after George Lucas.

Like Jason Newsted after Cliff Burton.

Like Andrew Johnson after Abraham Lincoln.

Like Commodus after Marcus Aurelius.

 

Some, like Kershner, rise to meet the challenge. Others, like Andrew Johnson, do so terribly their effects sour generations. Even more are just forgotten with time.

 

For Example,

Can you name the musical composer for Final Fantasy 12?

How about 13?

 

For most of us, these names probably don’t pop so easily into our heads… (They are Hitoshi Sakimoto, Hayato Matsuo, Masaharu Iwata for FF12 and Masashi Hamauzu for 13 By the way---and yes, I did have to look those up.)

 

How can you possibly follow a legend like Nobuo Uematsu? With 12 main series Final Fantasy games composed primarily by him.

With pieces like “theme of Love” from FF4 being taught to schoolchildren in Japan, and having the second-highest selling video game single ever (Eyes on Me, yes I still hate it, although I won’t deny the accomplishment), how can someone possibly fill his shoes.

 

You’ve heard the rumors… Is the next Uematsu here?

 

HAS THE CHOSEN ONE ARRIVED?

 

On that, who knows?

 

But let’s talk about him anyway.

 

This is our special Spotlight on Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn composer, Masayoshi Soken!!!

 

----------------------------small musical interlude----------------------------------

 

Masayoshi Soken was born on January 10th, 1975 in La Paz Mexico. His father was a Trumpet Player in the NHK Symphony Orchestra for many years, as well as a professor at the Okinawa Prefectural University of Art.

Why was his pregnant mother in mexico at the time of Soken’s birth?

Who knows!

Because he went straight from Mexico to Tokyo, Japan.

There he grew to love music, learn piano, learn the guitar, and get into the Tokyo University of Science.

 

Now I’ve desperately been searching for what he got his degree in at University… There are departments there in Science, engineering, innovation studies, chemical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, management, fire science, math, technology, and biology….

 

Basically, no music or sound design school.

 

Students are required to take some liberal arts stuff, according to the university’s website.

 

I figured, for fun, I’ll list off their principles on liberal arts-supplemented education:

 

“Leaders in science and technology are required to remain motivated to tackle, in cooperation with like minded people from different fields, cross-sectional and complex issues that transcend the borders of specialties, while maintaining a foothold in science and technology. We believe that cultivating such ability and supporting outstanding specialized skills are the role of liberal arts education.

For this purpose, organizing a curriculum for liberal arts education should aim to cultivate the following types of ability.

  • Ability to adopt a bird’s-eye perspective of nature, people, and society
  • Ability to think logically and critically
  • Communication skills
  • Internationalism (ability to understand different cultures, languages, ethnic groups, and international issues)
  • Self-management ability”

 

----------------------------small musical interlude-------------------------------------

 

Whatever it was that he learned from University, be it Biology or his skill in “Internationalism”, he was able to get an interview at Square in 1998 to work in the sound department.

 

Apparently, his enthusiasm for rock and roll is what got him the job, as well as his sick skills on the guitar.

 

And he put that guitar skill to work with his first video game soundtrack credit for the game “Gekikuukan Pro Yakyuu At the End of the Century” in 1999. The game features his punk rock music tracks, as well as some of his sound design… Let’s take a listen to one of his first video game scores….

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zyj_AjLK7E8

 

Soken would continue to work on sports games for Square, until Square decided that they were done making them. Before that time, would compose tracks for the games  Nichibeikan Pro Baseball: Final League and the soccer simulator World Fantasista…

 

Here’s a bit of sound from that game:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IphGvVxw9x8

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Now, Soken stayed quiet after the Sports Team was dissolved at square. My only assumption was that he was just lurking in sound design for various games, and not given any more opportunities to compose any music until 2005. There is some confusion regarding his credits, as Soken often went by pseudonyms during this time. It is believed that he co-created the piece "Endless Love, Endless Road” with Masashi Hamauzu and Tsuyoshi Sekito from a Final Fantasy X Tribute Album called “Feel/Go Dream Yuna & Tidus”in 2001. I don’t see any proof of this anywhere, but if Wikipedia says it, you know it’s true!!!!

 

I think it deserves a bit of a listen though, don’t you?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqID7jQwnLQ

 

If you want more information on that album… It’s supposed to be songs about Tidus and Yuna… You can look up more if you want.

 

His next piece that we know of was the beginning jingle for the show “Square-Enix music TV” where Square’s video game composers would be interviewed and promote their music.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6hsXHXOEn8

 

On this front, in an attempt to promote himself, apparently he showed up at some kind of fan convention and fought some robots half-naked for Square-Enix players…

 

Perhaps this paid off, he got to compose one spoof soundtrack for Front Mission 5 called “Blue Stream”...

 

http://downloads.khinsider.com/game-soundtracks/album/front-mission-5-scars-of-the-war-original-soundtrack/321-blue-stream.mp3

 

And so his return to Composing was complete.

 

He would next go on to do the entire soundtrack for the Square/Nintendo collaboration Mario 3 on 3. Here’s a taste of that...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehAZmNS6BPI&list=PLBBD787E4AD05D073

 

Now, as you can see, a lot of this stuff is more poppy in tone, and far from anything you’d hear in let’s say Final Fantasy 6, but I think that soken was just going pretty much where he was told. He contributed a remix for The Bouncer’s main theme, and he worked on Square-Enix’s web-based games Elebest, Game Brain, and Zenobuster.

 

He was moving up the ladder.

 

In 2007 he got the opportunity to play second fiddle to Kenji Ito on the score of Dawn of Mana in 2007.

 

Here’s his biggest contribution to that game, a track called “Sanctuary”... Sit back and relax for this one...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDbxqrcxSkk

 

Now, that’s more like it, am I right?

 

Mr. Soken was still considered a mid-level composer in the company, and his next two projects “Nameless game” in 2008 would be a minor release on the DS, a Video Game adaptation of The Ring. The theme here, I think, shows that he can do more than pop, rock, and pretty piano pieces… He can create something epic...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_8YugTt-Bc&list=PLfSOLl6OGya6nIZomTmyNp7MZaPnkt2f1&index=2

 

The last major game he’d work on before Final Fantasy XIV would be the game “Mario Sports Mix” in 2010.

 

I’ll play a bit of one of the pieces that showcases Soken’s punk rock style the most from this game…

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqjH20atoNE&list=PL8827B3786F638845&index=5

 

So, at some point he got hired on to do the sound direction for the 1.0 version of Final Fantasy XIV after this (Which, considering how huge the series is, that is still a massively important job in its own right). Nobuo Uematsu was making a one-off return to the series after going solo, and his shoes wouldn’t need to be filled until 1.0’s massive failure.

 

During the 1.0 to 2.0 debacle (you can listen to our FF14 review to learn all about that), Soken was given the double duty of directing the sound of both games. With no Uematsu, Soken had to fill in much of the soundtrack himself, eventually creating over 100 tracks for the new game, and later creating another 60 tracks for the Heavensward expansion.

 

Let’s go through a few of his most popular tracks from FF14. We’ll be putting up piano remixes these pieces, as I think that that may be the best way to truly appreciate the musicality of Soken--check the description for the links and check out the channels. For the true Soken audio, consult the game, or buy the albums.

 

This first one is called “Wailers and Waterwheels” arranged by Matt Fuss...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmZRCxdvSvU&list=PLBEaChoG50t4iyMscJ9mwMc0fCEK2MNh3

 

Here’s a pretty cool version of “Leviathan” from Husky By the Geek...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h37r9S0GdIs&index=13&list=PLpamuGhPkpi5sSydUiEYpP3FDpgeGdTP7

 

...and we’ll play one more by the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. This is “A New Hope”...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p97GPoQDXfc

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

For our closing statements on Masayoshi Soken, I’d like to say that I think he’s got incredible potential as far as his future work is concerned. Many FF14 players have gathered around his music in particular, praising it over Uematsu’s work on the same game.

 

I think the Jury’s still out on this one, but I sense great things from Masayoshi Soken in the future.

 

Let’s fade out with my favorite piece from Heavensward that I’ve heard so far… This is “Contention”. A remix by Benjamin Antony James…

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-9WEwgevEg

Direct download: UFF_96_MasayoshiSoken_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am MST

Final Fantasy IV: The After Years

By Kaleb Schweiss

Development History:

 

    Final Fantasy IV: The After Years was initially announced prior to the release of the DS Remake of Final Fantasy IV. Takashi Tokida, the game's executive producer, discussed there being talk of creating an after story, and a discussion began about working on mobile titles. Tokida may seem to be jumping in and changing things, but he had become quite attached to the characters, due to being a scenario writer for Final Fantasy IV. They decided that releasing the game in a mobile format would be beneficial, so it would allow players to play after completing the DS remake. This would effectively give you time to refresh your knowledge of FFIV before moving on to the After Years. The decision to have an episodic release came from a desire to have players anticipate the new chapters in the same way manga readers do. The Japanese mobile phones got the game on February 18th, 2008. The Prologue section Return of the Moon and Ceodore’s Tale were the initial releases, and the succeeding chapters came out in one month intervals. Just before the Lunarians Tale was released, Square Enix announced that the game had reached one million downloads, not including the free prologue chapter. As of March 2009, it has exceeded three million paid downloads. The game has a generally positive rate of review, with IGN giving it an 8/10.

 

Storyline:

 

    The game takes place after the moon leaves the Blue Planets orbit. Peace ensues in the kingdoms, Mist is rebuilt. Civility reigns. Seventeen years later, the unimaginable happens. A second moon appears. FOR THE SECOND TIME!! We are then introduced to the product of Cecil’s powerful loins; Ceodore. Yes. His FUCKING GAME IS CEODORE!!! He is being initiated into the Red Wings, Baron’s famous air force fleet. He is introduced as a character who fears he’ll never step out of the shadow of his famous parents. He later finds out that he has what it takes, yada yada yada. We then head back to Baron, where we see Cecil, Rosa, and Cid fighting the endless onslaught of enemies, who seemingly appeared out of nowhere. We are then introduced to the Mysterious Girl. Cecil sees the imminent threat, and has Cid relocate with Rosa while he confronts this little bitch. The woman summons the legendary beast of ruin, Bahamut, and rips Cecil about a hundred new assholes. While these events take place, the airship carrying Ceodore is attacked. Everyone but Ceodore is killed, and he begins his journey home. While on the way, he gets ambushed by monsters, and is rescued by the Hooded Man. They head towards Mysidia, and we intercut to Mt. Ordeals, where Kain is heading towards Baron with a raging boner for Cecil’s sweet ass. On the way, Kain teams up with the aforementioned Mysterious Girl to steal the crystals. He also kidnaps Rosa, stating that he plans to kill Cecil and take Rosa for his own.  Ceodore, the Hooded man, and everyone’s “favorite” Spoony Bard Edward, intercept Kain in front of Cecil’s throneroom. This is when the Hooded Man finally reveals himself as the real Kain. The Kain we had been seeing up to this point was in fact a manifestation of his dark half. Kain fights his dark half, much like Cecil did seventeen years prior, and wins. He then becomes a Holy Dragoon.

 

    We then get some of that sweet, sweet Rydia. She, Luca, and Edge are on an airship in the underworld. Suddenly, or not so much if you played the Lunarians Tale, the Man in Black appears and takes over the airship, taking it towards Baron. Upon approach, the party sees meteors falling from the second moon. They get to Baron, and find it sealed by magic. They then travel the world looking for their lost friends. This part of the game really reminded me of the Planet of Ruin in Final Fantasy VI. You eventually run into Rydia, and proceed to hunt down each of her missing Eidolons. Once the control of the summons via the Mysterious Girl are broken, the party is finally able to enter Baron. Once the party frees Cecil from the Mysterious Girl,  the Man in Black reveals himself as Golbez. Cecil, while freed from the girl's grasp, is a little off. The party realizes that the second moon is going to crash into their planet, reducing everything to a molten ball of pain, and try to come up with ways to stop it. Enter the Lunar Whale! Baawwwwooooooaaapppp!!!! The party takes the Lunar Whale to, you guessed it, the new moon. You descend the hours long dungeons, fighting your way through enemies from the original Final Fantasy IV, and then throws us a curveball. We fight bosses from Final Fantasy I through VI!! WTF!!!!!!! You eventually encounter Cecil’s evil side, fight it, and Cecil returns to the light.


    Once you reach floor 1,000,000,000,000,000 of the dungeon, the party comes across a really freaky, FFIX esque room filled with multiple models of the Mysterious Girl being infused with what I can only assume is either Mako, or Mt. Dew. The Mysterious Girl comes from a race called the Maenads. They were each brought to be by the Creator, and their mission was to retrieve the crystals. The party descends deeper to discover this creator. He reveals that he comes from a race that died out due to failure to evolve, and he decided that he universe shouldn’t be overrun by inferior species. So, he did the only thing a logical Final Fantasy end boss could do. Create an intricate system of data gathering cameras in the form of crystals, and sent them around the universe to monitor life on the planets. He used these crystals to determine if the planet is evolving to its true potential. If it’s not up to par, he will destroy it. The Blue Planet did not reach the bar, as determined by James Cameron, and thus will be destroyed. Once this is revealed, he crushes the party. They are revived by the power of the crystals, and begin to wail on the Creators back door. Once they penetrate his pucker, we fight him. The moob form is fairly simple to destroy, but the ultimate form is another thing entirely. The party uses a crystal on him, and ultimately kills him, and flee the moon, rescuing the Maenad who explained their race to the party earlier. As the creator dies, he thanks the party for defeating him, and shows remorse for his actions. As he should, since the inhabitants of an inferior planet tore him to pieces. The party returns to their homes, Rydia adopts Maenad and names her Cuore, Edge’s ninjas continue to spy on everything, Cecil has Ceodore serve in the Red Wings under Kain, and also orders Baron’s airships disarmed and used to help rebuild the other kingdoms.

 

REMIXES:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGMku7bGwB4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOnJgWO8MBY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ8QiTd2Baw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2SMrZjz28w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaLB5xHIjSs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AE0IJY5ZOI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dhu0POCLfS0

Direct download: UFF_95_Afteryears2_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am MST

Final Fantasy IV: The After Years

By Kaleb Schweiss

Development History:

 

    Final Fantasy IV: The After Years was initially announced prior to the release of the DS Remake of Final Fantasy IV. Takashi Tokida, the game's executive producer, discussed there being talk of creating an after story, and a discussion began about working on mobile titles. Tokida may seem to be jumping in and changing things, but he had become quite attached to the characters, due to being a scenario writer for Final Fantasy IV. They decided that releasing the game in a mobile format would be beneficial, so it would allow players to play after completing the DS remake. This would effectively give you time to refresh your knowledge of FFIV before moving on to the After Years. The decision to have an episodic release came from a desire to have players anticipate the new chapters in the same way manga readers do. The Japanese mobile phones got the game on February 18th, 2008. The Prologue section Return of the Moon and Ceodore’s Tale were the initial releases, and the succeeding chapters came out in one month intervals. Just before the Lunarians Tale was released, Square Enix announced that the game had reached one million downloads, not including the free prologue chapter. As of March 2009, it has exceeded three million paid downloads. The game has a generally positive rate of review, with IGN giving it an 8/10.

 

Storyline:

 

    The game takes place after the moon leaves the Blue Planets orbit. Peace ensues in the kingdoms, Mist is rebuilt. Civility reigns. Seventeen years later, the unimaginable happens. A second moon appears. FOR THE SECOND TIME!! We are then introduced to the product of Cecil’s powerful loins; Ceodore. Yes. His FUCKING GAME IS CEODORE!!! He is being initiated into the Red Wings, Baron’s famous air force fleet. He is introduced as a character who fears he’ll never step out of the shadow of his famous parents. He later finds out that he has what it takes, yada yada yada. We then head back to Baron, where we see Cecil, Rosa, and Cid fighting the endless onslaught of enemies, who seemingly appeared out of nowhere. We are then introduced to the Mysterious Girl. Cecil sees the imminent threat, and has Cid relocate with Rosa while he confronts this little bitch. The woman summons the legendary beast of ruin, Bahamut, and rips Cecil about a hundred new assholes. While these events take place, the airship carrying Ceodore is attacked. Everyone but Ceodore is killed, and he begins his journey home. While on the way, he gets ambushed by monsters, and is rescued by the Hooded Man. They head towards Mysidia, and we intercut to Mt. Ordeals, where Kain is heading towards Baron with a raging boner for Cecil’s sweet ass. On the way, Kain teams up with the aforementioned Mysterious Girl to steal the crystals. He also kidnaps Rosa, stating that he plans to kill Cecil and take Rosa for his own.  Ceodore, the Hooded man, and everyone’s “favorite” Spoony Bard Edward, intercept Kain in front of Cecil’s throneroom. This is when the Hooded Man finally reveals himself as the real Kain. The Kain we had been seeing up to this point was in fact a manifestation of his dark half. Kain fights his dark half, much like Cecil did seventeen years prior, and wins. He then becomes a Holy Dragoon.

 

    We then get some of that sweet, sweet Rydia. She, Luca, and Edge are on an airship in the underworld. Suddenly, or not so much if you played the Lunarians Tale, the Man in Black appears and takes over the airship, taking it towards Baron. Upon approach, the party sees meteors falling from the second moon. They get to Baron, and find it sealed by magic. They then travel the world looking for their lost friends. This part of the game really reminded me of the Planet of Ruin in Final Fantasy VI. You eventually run into Rydia, and proceed to hunt down each of her missing Eidolons. Once the control of the summons via the Mysterious Girl are broken, the party is finally able to enter Baron. Once the party frees Cecil from the Mysterious Girl,  the Man in Black reveals himself as Golbez. Cecil, while freed from the girl's grasp, is a little off. The party realizes that the second moon is going to crash into their planet, reducing everything to a molten ball of pain, and try to come up with ways to stop it. Enter the Lunar Whale! Baawwwwooooooaaapppp!!!! The party takes the Lunar Whale to, you guessed it, the new moon. You descend the hours long dungeons, fighting your way through enemies from the original Final Fantasy IV, and then throws us a curveball. We fight bosses from Final Fantasy I through VI!! WTF!!!!!!! You eventually encounter Cecil’s evil side, fight it, and Cecil returns to the light.


    Once you reach floor 1,000,000,000,000,000 of the dungeon, the party comes across a really freaky, FFIX esque room filled with multiple models of the Mysterious Girl being infused with what I can only assume is either Mako, or Mt. Dew. The Mysterious Girl comes from a race called the Maenads. They were each brought to be by the Creator, and their mission was to retrieve the crystals. The party descends deeper to discover this creator. He reveals that he comes from a race that died out due to failure to evolve, and he decided that he universe shouldn’t be overrun by inferior species. So, he did the only thing a logical Final Fantasy end boss could do. Create an intricate system of data gathering cameras in the form of crystals, and sent them around the universe to monitor life on the planets. He used these crystals to determine if the planet is evolving to its true potential. If it’s not up to par, he will destroy it. The Blue Planet did not reach the bar, as determined by James Cameron, and thus will be destroyed. Once this is revealed, he crushes the party. They are revived by the power of the crystals, and begin to wail on the Creators back door. Once they penetrate his pucker, we fight him. The moob form is fairly simple to destroy, but the ultimate form is another thing entirely. The party uses a crystal on him, and ultimately kills him, and flee the moon, rescuing the Maenad who explained their race to the party earlier. As the creator dies, he thanks the party for defeating him, and shows remorse for his actions. As he should, since the inhabitants of an inferior planet tore him to pieces. The party returns to their homes, Rydia adopts Maenad and names her Cuore, Edge’s ninjas continue to spy on everything, Cecil has Ceodore serve in the Red Wings under Kain, and also orders Baron’s airships disarmed and used to help rebuild the other kingdoms.

 

REMIXES:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGMku7bGwB4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOnJgWO8MBY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ8QiTd2Baw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2SMrZjz28w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaLB5xHIjSs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AE0IJY5ZOI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dhu0POCLfS0

Direct download: UFF_94_AfterYears_mixdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am MST

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