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"Romancing SaGa 2" , posted Wed 24 Jan 14:11post reply

So I've been playing Romancing SaGa 2, at my 3rd generation now. Some questions though...

- The mermaid romance quest, how far in the game do I need to be to get to that? I've heard starting a quest involving a ghost ship can lock you out of it.

- Lets say I've completed two different quests that would trigger a generation skip IF I talk to the quest giver. What happens when I talk to one guy and it skips 200 years into the future? Does the other guy just remain standing there waiting for me to talk to him or does the quest get reset or does it fail if it's generation sensitive?






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"Re(1):Romancing SaGa 2" , posted Thu 25 Jan 01:53post reply

quote:
- The mermaid romance quest, how far in the game do I need to be to get to that? I've heard starting a quest involving a ghost ship can lock you out of it.

I think the ghost ship event only locks you out of it while it's going on. But that may need another generation jump, and you can't romance with your last emperor. No reason to wait too much.
You can do the romance quest from almost the get go, you just need to reach the Mermaid town.
The good thing with this quest is that it only involves one medium difficulty fight, and it forces a generation jump afterwards, so it's very useful when you want to tightly control your lineage (for example to force Emperor Coperia without having to endanger your team with her too much, or if your team has been wiped but you've leveled up quite a bit and created a lot of new moves, so you don't want to create another team just for one quest).

quote:
- Lets say I've completed two different quests that would trigger a generation skip IF I talk to the quest giver. What happens when I talk to one guy and it skips 200 years into the future? Does the other guy just remain standing there waiting for me to talk to him or does the quest get reset or does it fail if it's generation sensitive?
Depends on the quest. More often than not, it would fail, indeed.





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"Re(2):Romancing SaGa 2" , posted Fri 13 Jul 22:40post reply

I know very little of the Romancing SaGa trilogy... for anyone who played it, is it any good?

The idea of either having multiple heroes having their own adventures simultaneously or following several generations of a family, rather than the conventional "standard hero recruiting party members to defeat the evil lord" plot, seems very interesting in theory. Then again, Phantasy Star III also had a story following three generations, but its execution felt very shallow...





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"Re(3):Romancing SaGa 2" , posted Fri 13 Jul 22:50post reply

quote:
I know very little of the Romancing SaGa trilogy... for anyone who played it, is it any good?

It's the best JRPG series available on GB, SFC, PS1, PS2, Vita, PC and soon Switch and PS4.





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"Re(4):Romancing SaGa 2 (and 1, and 3)" , posted Fri 13 Jul 22:57:post reply

quote:

It's the best JRPG series available on GB, SFC, PS1, PS2, Vita, PC and soon Switch and PS4.



That good, eh? Good to know! And good to know they will soon be available for Switch and PS4 (even though I currently own neither of these consoles). Will they be translated as well?

Speaking of SaGa, what about the two SaGa Frontier games? Do you recommend them, too?





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"Re(5):Romancing SaGa 2 (and 1, and 3)" , posted Sat 14 Jul 04:38post reply

I was actually talking of Scarlet Grace, but yes. Also RS3 if the remake doesn't get too delayed.
quote:
Speaking of SaGa, what about the two SaGa Frontier games? Do you recommend them, too?

Yeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah.


Maybe?





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"Re(6):Romancing SaGa 2 (and 1, and 3)" , posted Sat 14 Jul 04:51post reply

Is Scarlet Grace another name for RSG2? It's still nice to know that it's a great game.

quote:

Speaking of SaGa, what about the two SaGa Frontier games? Do you recommend them, too?
Yeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah.


Maybe?



I'll take that as a "not really"; thanks for the answer!





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"Re(7):Romancing SaGa 2 (and 1, and 3)" , posted Sat 14 Jul 05:15post reply

Oh, no, sorry, Scarlet Grace is the name of the latest SaGa game (of which Romancing, Frontier and Unlimited are part of). It was released for Vita and is soon to be ported to PS4/Switch/PC.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKdZtpX_XaY
Though I must warn that the game's most compelling quality is its writing, so I advise people who will play it in English to wait for reports on the quality of the translation before buying.
quote:
I'll take that as a "not really"; thanks for the answer!

Don't tell anyone I said that!







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"Re(8):Romancing SaGa 2 (and 1, and 3)" , posted Sat 14 Jul 13:40post reply

quote:
Speaking of SaGa, what about the two SaGa Frontier games? Do you recommend them, too?
Yeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah.
Maybe?
CITATION NEEDED
quote:

Don't tell anyone I said that!

That's more like it. SaGa Frontier is among the worst RPGs I have ever played, and soured me on the series for literally a decade before Iggy opened my heart with glorious tales of Romancing SaGa 2, without my even having played it! I look forward to playing it on my hypothetical Switch, together with Octopath Traveller. In fact, I look forward to driving Iggy nuts by noting in each thread henceforth that Octopath Traveller is supplanting SaGa as the SaGa game that people outside of Japan actually like.





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"Re(10): 7 SaGas, Octopath Travelers" , posted Thu 26 Jul 23:41post reply

So... About Octopath's visual aesthetic and... that whole argument about how "it looks like a terrible interpretation of the 16-bit aesthetic" seems disproven.

...Okay, maybe everyone still has their own strong opinions of it. To me though, it seems to be crossing the line between partial abstraction and "filling the right amount of details on-screen versus leaving the rest to the imagination"...In short, it's basically viewing 16-bit sprites with a literal "nostalgia glasses filter" that I think pixel-purists hate (HATE HATE as what Kefka would say). Kind of like how many indie games that have retro spritework but see effects zoom and scale in a non-integer way, not faithful to any particular hardware of that period.

I feel this takes that "unfaithfulness" and cranks it up all the way to eleven, with landscapes and backgrounds seemingly mishmashed with realistic particle effects and even the use of fog and depth of field to further enhance the atmosphere of the environment the character is on. Tressa's (my main pick) lamp casting shadows and lighting in a seemingly realistic fashion on pixelated cavern walls shouldn't look this good, if not good at all. And yet, somehow, it mentally fits.

At first it was kind of weird, but as I played along, I realized it was the scale of those environments that the game wanted to sell me on. Back in the 32-bit era in which pre-rendered environments were common, games like Final Fantasy VII and VIII would fool us into thinking the areas that we were exploring were huge, but in reality they were nothing more than small corridors or rooms. Octopath Traveler's caves and town areas, on the other hand, are literal dungeons by comparison: You're not jumping from one small area into the next, transitioning from "room-to-room" like you did in Midgard or Balamb Garden, but rather jumping from one huge chunk of an exploration playground, going in and out of houses and taverns that are seemingly bigger on the inside seamlessly, an effect this game manages to capture perfectly that it had me fooled into thinking that the interiors were on the same scale both inside and out (when, in truth, they're not!), all the while making everything seem "larger than life" with its use lighting and other UE4 set dressings.

Despite everything I've mention, it still feels so cohesive that I never felt pulled out of gameplay because I was distracted by any "stylistic clash". I was more concerned about trying to pilfer the next NPC off their goods with Therion or inquiring about discounts at inns with Alfyn than I was trying to admire the details with the towns, but what detail is there actually feels like it belongs there. Yes, there are realistic snowflakes with white powdered dust in an ice-capped town where roads are lined with pixelated pebble-stones. Yes, there are big sprite splashes in a seaside wharf where the ocean glistens with an actual bokeh effect. Yet it never feels wrong or out of place. Perhaps its when you realize that everything is presented in this weird diorama that everything starts to make sense: It's a literal vignette into these adventurer's lives, seen in a particular lense.







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"Re(2):Re(10): 7 SaGas, Octopath Travelers" , posted Fri 27 Jul 04:27post reply

quote:
it was the scale of those environments that the game wanted to sell me on. Back in the 32-bit era in which pre-rendered environments were common, games like Final Fantasy VII and VIII would fool us into thinking the areas that we were exploring were huge, but in reality they were nothing more than small corridors or rooms. Octopath Traveler's caves and town areas, on the other hand, are literal dungeons by comparison: You're not jumping from one small area into the next, transitioning from "room-to-room" like you did in Midgard or Balamb Garden, but rather jumping from one huge chunk of an exploration playground, going in and out of houses and taverns that are seemingly bigger on the inside seamlessly, an effect this game manages to capture perfectly that it had me fooled into thinking that the interiors were on the same scale both inside and out (when, in truth, they're not!), all the while making everything seem "larger than life" with its use lighting and other UE4 set dressings.
I really enjoyed these observations! I also really enjoy how my SaGa→Octopath focus prophecy has come true (sorry, Iggy (not that sorry))!

I'm always interested to hear people's assessments of whether the aesthetic works, but I sure remember that the better the mist and cloud and lighting effects on some advanced 16-bit RPGs like FFVI, Chrono Trigger, Tales of Phantasia, and Star Ocean, the happier I was, and this seems like a continuation of that.

I also enjoy the point on the sense of scale, which reminds me of other comments on how Octopath rewards you for poking around alleys and obscured areas of its large environments. Whatever the technology, this makes areas seem so much more real. I recall vividly how unimpressed I was with Final Fantasy VII after VI: suddenly, there were no more barrels to inspect or secret passageways to explore, just big dumb yellow treasure chests, and the single-screen, huge towns like South Figaro and Narche ironically felt much larger and more vivid/bustling than Midgard in some places for the reasons you cite.





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"Re(3):Romancing SaGa 2" , posted Fri 27 Jul 15:19post reply

quote:

The idea of either having multiple heroes having their own adventures simultaneously or following several generations of a family, rather than the conventional "standard hero recruiting party members to defeat the evil lord" plot, seems very interesting in theory.


I've really only played Rudra no Hihou that was like this; I haven't gotten around to Live A Live (maybe I will before I inevitably die; it took forever just to get to Rudra no Hihou). Three protagonists are running around during the last 15 days of Mankind, where two of them are typical RPG archetypes and the third one is a loser archaeologist who turned out to be the most interesting one because of the shit he got himself into. So naturally I played him first all the way through (you don't have to, you can freely switch between all three of them) and things that didn't make sense in that route started making sence once I was doing the other two. Part of the fun was seeing how things were connected to each other.





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"Re(4):Romancing SaGa 2" , posted Fri 27 Jul 22:10post reply

quote:

I've really only played Rudra no Hihou that was like this; I haven't gotten around to Live A Live (maybe I will before I inevitably die; it took forever just to get to Rudra no Hihou). Three protagonists are running around during the last 15 days of Mankind, where two of them are typical RPG archetypes and the third one is a loser archaeologist who turned out to be the most interesting one because of the shit he got himself into. So naturally I played him first all the way through (you don't have to, you can freely switch between all three of them) and things that didn't make sense in that route started making sence once I was doing the other two. Part of the fun was seeing how things were connected to each other.



Yes, Rudra no Hihou is fascinating! Connected stories, body swaps, unusual party members (including a giant, a mermaid and two little kids - granted, one of the kids is a lizardman kid with sharp claws and the other is a powerful magician, but still...), Indian versions of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (though to be fair, I only remember Bhadra and Nagiya; I forgot who the other two were...), the whole "you only have 15 days" adding more pressure to the urgency of the missions...

Square was surely creative back in the SNES days. Live A Live was quite bold as well (even if its battle system isn't the most interesting one).





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"Re(5):Romancing SaGa 2" , posted Sat 28 Jul 03:52post reply

I played Live A Live, and besides the boring battle system, the game plot twist was a good surprise considering other games of that period / platform.

I have heard great things about Rudra no Hihou, but never managed to play it. It's sad that nowadays to play these games the only alternative is emulators or find the original hardware.
(IIRC these two games were never remade for other platforms, right?)





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"Re(6):Romancing SaGa 2" , posted Sat 28 Jul 04:46post reply

quote:
I played Live A Live, and besides the boring battle system, the game plot twist was a good surprise considering other games of that period / platform.

I have heard great things about Rudra no Hihou, but never managed to play it. It's sad that nowadays to play these games the only alternative is emulators or find the original hardware.
(IIRC these two games were never remade for other platforms, right?)



No, they weren't. And neither of them made it out of Japan, either (thankfully, the fan translations in their emulations were quite good on both of them).





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"Re(4):Romancing SaGa 2" , posted Sat 28 Jul 07:04post reply

quote:

The idea of either having multiple heroes having their own adventures simultaneously or following several generations of a family, rather than the conventional "standard hero recruiting party members to defeat the evil lord" plot, seems very interesting in theory.

I've really only played Rudra no Hihou that was like this; I haven't gotten around to Live A Live (maybe I will before I inevitably die; it took forever just to get to Rudra no Hihou). Three protagonists are running around during the last 15 days of Mankind, where two of them are typical RPG archetypes and the third one is a loser archaeologist who turned out to be the most interesting one because of the shit he got himself into. So naturally I played him first all the way through (you don't have to, you can freely switch between all three of them) and things that didn't make sense in that route started making sence once I was doing the other two. Part of the fun was seeing how things were connected to each other.



Live-A-Live is a short game so I highly recommend you get to it!
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"Re(5):Romancing Octopathanigma 2" , posted Sat 28 Jul 11:57post reply

We are going to get into real trouble once Iggy discovers what's happened to the SaGa thread, but until he does: this seems like as good a place as any to ask whether Tenchi Souzou (Genesis/Creation of Heaven and Earth/Terranigma) is worth playing now. Technically, all these games are connected to RomaSaGa 2, the supposed subject of this thread, in that they're also SFC greats I've tragically neglected, so!





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"Re(2):Re(10): 7 SaGas, Octopath Travelers" , posted Sat 28 Jul 17:21:post reply

quote:
So... About Octopath's visual aesthetic and... that whole argument about how "it looks like a terrible interpretation of the 16-bit aesthetic" seems disproven.

...Okay, maybe everyone still has their own strong opinions of it. To me though, it seems to be crossing the line between partial abstraction and "filling the right amount of details on-screen versus leaving the rest to the imagination"...In short, it's basically viewing 16-bit sprites with a literal "nostalgia glasses filter" that I think pixel-purists hate (HATE HATE as what Kefka would say). Kind of like how many indie games that have retro spritework but see effects zoom and scale in a non-integer way, not faithful to any particular hardware of that period.

I feel this takes that "unfaithfulness" and cranks it up all the way to eleven, with landscapes and backgrounds seemingly mishmashed with realistic particle effects and even the use of fog and depth of field to further enhance the atmosphere of the environment the character is on. Tressa's (my main pick) lamp casting shadows and lighting in a seemingly realistic fashion on pixelated cavern walls shouldn't look this good, if not good at all. And yet, somehow, it mentally fits.

At first it was kind of weird, but as I played along, I realized it was the scale of those environments that the game wanted to sell me on. Back in the 32-bit era in which pre-rendered environments

-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --


Please forgive the following old man rant about how Octopath's visuals are very lacking in certain regards compared to the classic games that it's descended from.

My #1 main issue with the game is it's over-reliance on color grading. The game is no doubt composed of beautiful sprite art with rich colors. However they're hidden under a mountain of filters and realtime lighting and camera FX.

I've joked that Octopath looks like FF6 + Instagram. Well, I just ran a screenshot of FF6 through Instagram and I feel it's pretty convincing!

Here's a comparison of Octopath, FF6, and the smae image photoshopped to resemble Octopath:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DjK9ROqU8AAFejc.jpg:large

I feel the game relies too much on post processing effects rather than letting the character sprites and tiles and sets speak for themselves. The color edits, realtime lighting, tilt shift and other effects are just too in your face for me.

A friend of mine who does a lot of editing professionally told me that "color grading is really color degrading." You're adding information, but also destroying a lot of it and replacing it with something artificially calculated that flattens everything out.

Compare the roof tiles in Octopath(left) with those of Final Fantasy 6(right):
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DjK-S9YUcAAp2Yu.jpg:large

The tiles in Octopath are simply blue with black or white added. But the tiles in FF6 have a rich mix of blues, greens, reds and yellows of varying hues, saturation and value. The parts bathed in light are slightly warmer while the shadows are cooler. A human being picked every color and laid down every pixel. It's technically less information insofar as it's lower resolution and less colors, but it's MUCH HIGHER QUALITY information. It conveys depth, temperature, mood. Octopath feels comparatively lifeless, because the final colors are the result of someone pulling values up and down on a slider and the changes are applied very evenly throughout the entire scren.

Compare this screen from Xenogears with Octopath:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DjLBs2lUwAEQjld.jpg:large

What is the benefit of all that filtering in Octopath? Is it really improving the quality of the image? Look at how clear and appealing Xenogears looks by comparison.

Xenogears is rich with good color choices. Look at the dirt:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DjLC0_kUYAAFMUd.jpg:large

It's got warm and cool colors. It's literally mud, but it doesn't have to look muddy.

Now look at the ground in Octopath:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DjLDesJUYAAhotA.jpg:large

It's cold and sterile. If you look REALLY closely you can see a tiny bit of hue variation peeking through, no doubt from the actual sprite art, but it's drowned out by all that color grading!

Now look what happens when you compare Octopath to Seiken Densetsu 3, released just a year after FF6 when Squaresoft was entering the height of their sprite art powers:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DjLFsvJVAAIK72U.jpg:large

I'm not saying Seiken Densetsu 3 is better because it's more colorful. I'm saying it objectively conveys more information because it was hand crafted. Every dot, every color was placed there by a person who had to put a lifetime of experience into their decisions. Because of that, despite the hard 256 on screen color limit of the SNES, you got very rich, full, compelling imagery.

Octopath is obviously much flatter. It's colors have been dulled by an evenly applied algorithm.

Now look at what happens when you enter the PSOne era. Legend of Mana was one of the most beautiful games ever made! Although they were suddenly jumping from 256 colors to hundreds of thousands of colors on screen, they worked with restraint and came up with very tasteful, timeless imagery.

Heck there were even parts where they did use color filters, but it's done so much more tastefully than in Octopath:
https://lparchive.org/Legend-of-Mana-(by-Mega64)/Update%2020/66-060.gif
I don't mean to throw shade at the art team on Octopath. They're some of the best artists in the world. Bravely Default was GORGEOUS and maintained all their learnings from the 16bit days. That game's like a living classical painting.

That's why it's strange to me that they're taking so many shortcuts with the color grading. Not even shortcuts, it's clear that there's some beautiful, rich sprite art underneath it all. But they're intentionally making it look like some kind of Unity game the relies on realtime effects for visual flair, to make up for the lack of underlying design.

Basically I feel like they're intentionally making the game look worse to appeal to a contemporary audience that's been conditioned by countless Hollywood Blockbusters to accept these dull, grey, lifeless color schemes in movies, so now they want it in games too.

Sorry if that's harsh. I just really personally strongly dislike this reliance on color grading. It's still a great game with wonderful artistry. They're still using all these effects in far more interesting ways than most. And i guess it's not bad for them to try new things.

I just hope they don't stay on this (Octo)path of reliance on color grading, which is where much of the industry has already shifted. SquareEnix has the talent and experience to do far better. I want to see them lead, not follow.






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[this message was edited by nobinobita on Sun 29 Jul 02:32]

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"Re(3):Re(10): 7 SaGas, Octopath Travelers" , posted Sun 29 Jul 13:54:post reply

quote:
...Okay, maybe everyone still has their own strong opinions of it. To me though, it seems to be crossing the line between partial abstraction and "filling the right amount of details on-screen versus leaving the rest to the imagination"...In short, it's basically viewing 16-bit sprites with a literal "nostalgia glasses filter" that I think pixel-purists hate (HATE HATE as what Kefka would say).

---------

Please forgive the following old man rant about how Octopath's visuals are very lacking in certain regards compared to the classic games that it's descended from.


-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --



Great to read both sfried and nobi's take on Octopath Traveler! In-depth opinion writing and discussion is just simply precious in the modern Social networking age of quick and easily forgotten content. If I had a Switch, I'd be picking the game up just to post my input on it as well. (Come on Octopath, come to the PS4 console)

While I don't have anything I can add on to Octopath Traveler, it's not directly relevant but as a pixel art enthousiast I'd like to sidestep and mention that one of my favorite handhelds, the Nintendo DS, was probably amongst the last gaming machine that was born for the 2D and Pixel gaming experience. And that handheld was still in its generation only 10 years ago. Back then, pixel art wasn't yet a "Retro thing" that developers purposely made for fans with a craving for 16 bit graphics . Time certainly flys.





[this message was edited by Professor on Sun 29 Jul 17:37]



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"Re(4):Re(10): 7 SaGas, Octopath Travelers" , posted Sun 29 Jul 20:48post reply

quote:
Great to read both sfried and nobi's take on Octopath Traveler! In-depth opinion writing and discussion is just simply precious in the modern Social networking age of quick and easily forgotten content. If I had a Switch, I'd be picking the game up just to post my input on it as well. (Come on Octopath, come to the PS4 console)

I agree, it was great to read two different but well stated opinions on Octopath Traveler. Now I want to try the game, if just for purely academic purposes of seeing how it fits in the larger discussion of game art.







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"Re(4):Re(10): 7 SaGas, Octopath Travelers" , posted Mon 30 Jul 19:05post reply

quote:

Great to read both sfried and nobi's take on Octopath Traveler! In-depth opinion writing and discussion is just simply precious in the modern Social networking age of quick and easily forgotten content. If I had a Switch, I'd be picking the game up just to post my input on it as well. (Come on Octopath, come to the PS4 console)
(Psst, why not just get a Switch? The Octopath team has been confirmed to be working on more titles for that platform.)

On the odd note, it's kind of weird that S-E decided to localize the remake of Secret of Mana, but not the amazing Seiken Densetsu Collection, not even as a digital-only release. At least SaGa Frontier 2 got some love...







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"Re(5):Re(10): 7 SaGas, Octopath Travelers" , posted Tue 31 Jul 01:06:post reply

I really enjoyed both Sfried and Nobi's takes! (Nobi: I especially appreciate how you posted this long piece here rather than (in addition to?) twitter, but then, you know how I feel about these things.)

I think I realized why Octopath still looks nice, even while knowing in my heart that Nobi's right about the superfluous filters. For me, an equal part of the enjoyment of mid-to-late SFC RPG graphics was the progression in effects. I recall clearly how the misty clouds that fly over Narche and Mt. Colts (the first outdoor mountain dungeon) in FFVI were so exciting to me, together with the excitement of the technical tricks on display in Chrono Trigger's opening, and the thrill of special lighting effects for street lamps and torches in late-generation games like Star Ocean, Tales of Phantasia, and Seiken Densetsu 3.

So while I wish Octopath's developers had taken the "Mana route," ultimately, the great sprite RPGs always had a tension between special effects and solid pixel work that I enjoyed.





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"Re(6):Re(10): 7 SaGas, Octopath Travelers" , posted Tue 31 Jul 07:17post reply

quote:
I really enjoyed both Sfried and Nobi's takes! (Nobi: I especially appreciate how you posted this long piece here rather than (in addition to?) twitter, but then, you know how I feel about these things.)

I think I realized why Octopath still looks nice, even while knowing in my heart that Nobi's right about the superfluous filters. For me, an equal part of the enjoyment of mid-to-late SFC RPG graphics was the progression in effects. I recall clearly how the misty clouds that fly over Narche and Mt. Colts (the first outdoor mountain dungeon) in FFVI were so exciting to me, together with the excitement of the technical tricks on display in Chrono Trigger's opening, and the thrill of special lighting effects for street lamps and torches in late-generation games like Star Ocean, Tales of Phantasia, and Seiken Densetsu 3.

So while I wish Octopath's developers had taken the "Mana route," ultimately, the great sprite RPGs always had a tension between special effects and solid pixel work that I enjoyed.



Spoon told me I should come by here and post more often, so here I am! Ok Spoon are you happy now?!?!?

I'm going to say I agreeeee with Maou in general about Octopath.

I'm not completely certain they could have pulled off some of the effects that got used (like snow and the sparking distant ocean, for example) without going with a filtered-style look. To me using the filters they used were an interesting way to concentrate player attention on the immediacy of the center part of the screen. I can say I wish they had been a little more adventurous with the look of the game (and especially its colors!) but in the end, the art almost seems beside the point for me because they made a hell of a battle system. And in the end that's what sold me on the game.

Anyway that's my opinion! I might end up getting tired of the grind before I finish Octopath, but I'm having a blast with it now, having just finished the last of the Chapter 1s.

As an aside, the monster sprites remind me of the updated sprites on the PC/PSP versions of Final Fantasy I+II, which was my favorite part of the game. I also liked another thing that I won't mention except in a spoiler:

Spoiler (Highlight to view) -
the Final Fantasy V-ish second job outfits for each of the characters!!!

End of Spoiler







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"Romancing Grace, how sweet the sound" , posted Tue 31 Jul 08:00post reply

quote:
We are going to get into real trouble once Iggy discovers what's happened to the SaGa thread

YEAH, AND WHOSE FAULT WAS THAT.

Fortunately, people of good taste salvaged the topic by making it about Rudora no Hihou, a truly fantastic game that unfortunately not enough people played, and that SQEX seems to be happy to leave abandoned in the same graveyard they forgot Quintet's corpse. A tragedy.
And then Nobi set everything right by talking about Legend of Mana, the most beautiful 2D JRPG as well as another success in Kawazu's gospel, so I'm happy with the direction the thread has gone in my absence.

Compared to Rudora or LoM, what I've played of Octopath is DULL. The characters' stories don't really interact with each other, so it's more of a SaGa thing, except their scenarios are boring, the plot is too important without being interesting, and everyone speaks too much while merely retreading the usual stale tropes. As for the combat system, it just tries hard to be something interesting while ending (at least in the demos) utterly boring with clear lines to break, without the clarity and homogeneity of Bravely Default's. The idea of playing through all that in another pretentious Ye Olde Englishe gibberish makes me shiver.

Fortunately, soon that DULL game will be forgotten, as Scarlet Grace is finally available for pre-download on Japanese consoles!
SagaSG also highlights one of the many flaws of Otopath: it is such a boring and unimaginative game, structure-wise. Large cities to explore for meagre loot, dungeons filled with boring enemies that are time wasters instead of actual challenges... That was all fine in the 90s, but JRPG should have moved past the DQ framework since the SFC.
Unfortunately, not many people are interested in trying different things, and it's once again up to Kawazu to do what the rest of the industry will start to imitate in 20 years. The idea to entirely scrap cities and dungeons was already brilliant in 2016. After Octopath, it's solidified as the greatest game design idea from Japan from the last 10 years.







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"Re(1):The SaGa of Square-Enix franchises" , posted Tue 31 Jul 09:46post reply

First, I'd like to address nobinobita's concerns about the "Instagram filter" and why I think the idea of color grading and filters does not ruin nor degrade the artistry of the the sprites in Octopath. On the contrary, it has the effect of showing what the true intention of that artwork was given the limitations of the previous generations.

Let's start with the first examples you brought up: Final Fantasy VI, which IMO was the defacto reference Octopath uses for its spirtework art. It's wasn't Chrono Trigger, nor is it Seiken Densetsu/Secret of Mana's color pallet that it tries to emulate, nor even Final Fantasy IV's, it's Final Fantasy VI's for a reason: As you've highlighted, it has more paler, more subdued color set, with more earth tones and drabber blues to simulate the grittier nature of the setting and story. Pretty much the opening shot of Narche is there to convey the pseudo-steampunk aesthetic the game starts out, where everything feels dirty if not sort of smoggy. Any color choice they chose was veering towards the more realistic appearances of materials given the limits of the 16-bit colors. Your example shows just exactly that: Octopath's art sort of resembles more 31-bit aesthetics due to use of more alpha tricks/opacities/filters...call it what you will. Hard lines appear a lot less thick and the space from the tiles and viewer now appears to have atmosphere. This effect is more evident with the game in motion, where the clouds cast shadows over the scenery and makes hues lighter or darker depending on sunlight shown. (This ties in to my dynamic lighting argument above.) Even FFVI attempts to do this with its use of fog transparencies over towns (Zozo is good example). Both games attempt to convey atmosphere and depth through color, with FFVI relying more on handpicked colors sets. Octopath, too, uses handpick pallets, but it also uses dynamic lighting and texture materials to define its surfaces as well. It's best shown when running around the chapel during Ophelia's chapter. There are subtle reflections on the marble floor, and light sources also react properly with the wall sprites: Rather than just letting the entire light source bask over the entire wall texture, each sprite instead has a "depth" value to make the handpicked highlights change in color with the darker areas remaining dark.

Answering your second nitpick about how ground textures seem to be washed out due to filtering, it seems you chose an example where the ground is purposefully made out-of-focus. Yes, the game uses a lot of depth of field effects, but again this is to give areas their scale. Ground textures really showing off their detail is much more apparent during combat, when various lighting conditions caused by Boosting and Spells suddenly make these textures show more depth.

Also comparing Xenogears and Seiken Densetsu 3 in terms of color choices is rather disingenuous: If anything, I think the more appropriate comparison is Vagrant Story, considering the art was done by Akihido Yoshida (and a lot of the art direction in that game revolved around his style). I draw the Vagrant Story comparison because it also uses the same muted and earthly color palette Octopath uses. As a matter of fact, Naoki Ikushima, Octopath's head artist (whom I initially had mistaken for Yoshida himself), uses a very similar hand-drawn, "sketchy" style. When comparing a screenshot of Vagrant Story, you start to see the similarities with Octopath's so-called "flatter" approach which relies on careful gradation and lighting. In fact, while your at it, it might be more suitable to compare the Secret of Mana remake's models with its original spritework, and I guess one would come to the conclusion that the remake's models lack the "soul" of the original.

Shifting topics to address the Professor and 2D/Pixel gaming experience: Have you played Final Fantasy 4 Heroes of Light? It features 2D sprite backgrounds and art by Akihiko Yoshida. Aesthetically, it's a very interesting take on flat-shaded 3D models driven primarily by 2D sprite artwork. It feels like the MegaMan Legends of Final Fantasies.

I think this game alone would be worth a topic not only to discuss the art style, but also it's next iteration of the ATB: The Boost System was first introduced in 4HL, which would later evolve into the Bravely/Default system of the Bravely series, which would later end up in...Octopath Traveler. I feel like there's something to be said about Square-Enix's producers and the correlation with their art directors, like, if one were to trace a path (no pun intended), it seems there's:

- Tetsuya Nomura's division
- Tomoya Asano's/Akihiko Yoshida's/Naoki Ikushima's division
- Akitoshi Kawazu's/Toshiyuki Itahana division

and of course, the former Hironobu Sakaguchi's/Yoshitaka Amano's division.

There's clearly a lot to discuss here as I think the main driving for of S-E's RPG's are its art directors/main artists. (I also realized I forgot Tokyo RPG Factory, but they're relatively more recent so I don't know if they carry as much of a legacy at S-E.)

Is Live A Live considered a SaGa game?







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"Re(2):The SaGa of Square-Enix franchises" , posted Tue 31 Jul 21:13post reply

quote:
- Akitoshi Kawazu's/Toshiyuki Itahana division
Why Itahana?
If anything, Kawazu is more associated with Tomomi Kobayashi (who is back for Scarlet Grace after being cast aside during the Frontier-Unlimited years, and she was absent from Minstrel Song unfortunately). Though the main artist I'd associate with Kawazu, even more than Kobayashi, would be Itoken. All of Kawazu's main games have had Itoken music starting with SaGa2, except Frontier 2 and Unlimited. Itoken has done music with many other people, companies and series (Culdcept, some bad Mana games, and many others) but Kawazu's first choice of musician is always Kawazu.

quote:
Is Live A Live considered a SaGa game?
I don-t believe Kawazu was in any way involved in that game. If anything, it was a game by Tokita, and is more closer to Hanjuku Hero than any other series of Square Soft. Wasn't it also the first game with Shimomura music in Square Soft?





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"Re(3):The SaGa of Square-Enix franchises" , posted Wed 1 Aug 04:58post reply

quote:
Is Live A Live considered a SaGa game?



No. And it's quite different from the SaGa games, in fact... I mean, I've never played the SaGa games, but from what I read, they seem to share a number of characteristics, like the multiple stories usually taking place simultaneously (in Live a Live each story happens in a specific era), or them being very open in the world exploration, full of side quests and optional party members (in Live a Live, while you can choose the order in which you play the stories, the stories themselves are mostly linear).

It's a very interesting game (even if a little underdeveloped in battle system and graphics), nevertheless.





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"Re(4):The SaGa of Square-Enix franchises" , posted Thu 2 Aug 10:08post reply

I've always loved that the Cafe has the most people on the English-language internet speaking about Live-A-Live (i.e., > 0 ). So: is it time to finally play Seiken Densetsu 2, RS2, Live-A-Live, or Tenchi Souzou?! Cast your votes now.

Because this is also the SaGa thread, please enjoy an interview with our dread master Kawazu, in which he notes that Scarlet Grace's streamlined design came around the time that other simplified games were big on smartphones, and that 3D dungeons would have taken a lot of time and that this let him focus on making a much bigger (better) game in other ways...as noted previously by Iggy above, indicating once again that he is the true avatar of Kawazu.





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"Re(5):The SaGa of Square-Enix franchises" , posted Thu 2 Aug 12:40:post reply

quote:
Shifting topics to address the Professor and 2D/Pixel gaming experience: Have you played Final Fantasy 4 Heroes of Light? It features 2D sprite backgrounds and art by Akihiko Yoshida. Aesthetically, it's a very interesting take on flat-shaded 3D models driven primarily by 2D sprite artwork. It feels like the MegaMan Legends of Final Fantasies.


Actually no, I've never played it although I've seen some videos. It's 2D background?? I thought it seemed like all 3D to me, similarly to the FF3 remake.



quote:
I've always loved that the Cafe has the most people on the English-language internet speaking about Live-A-Live (i.e., > 0 ). So: is it time to finally play Seiken Densetsu 2, RS2, Live-A-Live, or Tenchi Souzou?! Cast your votes now.


(whispers) Can you hear me? I am the voice of your conscience.. you must play SaGa on the original b&w Gameboy..





[this message was edited by Professor on Thu 2 Aug 21:34]



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"Re(6):The SaGa of Square-Enix franchises" , posted Fri 3 Aug 01:36:post reply

Kawazu has done a makeshift AMA about Scarlet Grace on Twitter. Some people tried to troll him... little did they know Kawazu has reached enlightenment and cannot be touched by such miserable individuals.

Some choice extracts (I tried to render the gap in speech level between the posters and Kawazu. They speak like chinpira, he answers with heartfelt respect and politeness)

> you could have released the game on PS4 from the start you SQEX crooks, aren't you ashamed you thieves?
Kawazu: I believe we could release the current ports thanks to the Vita version. We knew we would attract some criticism such as this, but we decided to try to make the best game as we could on Vita first. To be honest, the PS4 is far too powerful for what we want to do, and we were worried about our lack of skill from the start.

> Yeah, you're just going to hide behind some corporate bullshit.
Kawazu: It's not really a corporate thing, it's just that we didn't have the courage to release the game on PS4 from the beginning. It's a RPG, but we weren't prepared to be compared to the likes of The Witcher for example.

> So all you're saying is that the Vita version was a beta version. You're just making things worse. Are you senile?
Kawazu: If you want to put it that way, all my games since FF1 have been beta versions, and I will probably keep on making unfinished games in the future. I am prepared to never release a game I would consider properly finished in my career.

> M. Kawazu, please do not waste time answering to these trolls, they are not worth your time.
Kawazu: It happens to everyone to fail to express properly one's thoughts on Twitter. It happens often to me as well. I just take for granted that these people have something important they want to say directly to me, so it is only normal for me to answer them at the best of my capacities. This account is not just for my personal use, it is also for this kind of use.

It reminds me of this exchange from 2 years ago, where a guy was saying Kawazu's constant humble stance make it appear like the game is shit, so he won't buy it unless Kawazu proves to him the game is worth it. Kawazu's answer: "I've done my best on this game, but I cannot guarantee you will find any worth in it, as my games are not really for everyone".
The guy makes a shitty apology "sorry not sorry", Kawazu apologizes for having the guy apologize to him, the guy comes back "but can you at least tell us that you've made a game you're proud of?", to which Kawazu replies "in general, I mostly have feelings of inadequacy and failure when I finish a project. The only games I felt proud of in the past after finishing them were Sa.Ga1 and RS2. As for Scarlet Grace, it's too early to consider the game in objective terms. This is why such questions are painful to me. I understand those are just my own personal feelings and have little to do with the quality of the game itself."
Then some other guy comes and says how it's disrespectful to say your games are not for everyone, so he won't buy the game. Kawazu's answer: "If my games could be loved by everyone, I would be the happiest man on earth. But even if only one person loved my game, I would still be the happiest man on earth."

I can see a future where Kawazu would retire on some mountain to meditate until he reaches sokushinbutsu-status.





[this message was edited by Iggy on Fri 3 Aug 02:27]

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"Re(7):The SaGa of Square-Enix franchises" , posted Fri 3 Aug 05:14post reply

A very polite man, indeed.





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"Re(8):The SaGa of Square-Enix franchises" , posted Fri 3 Aug 19:03post reply

OK, now the bad: the Switch port is.... not great.
Or rather, it's the same as the Vita version, with less loadings which alone makes it worth it.
But it has the same general unresponsiveness, sometimes items take a few seconds to load in shop... menus in general don't flow naturally, which sucks because this is THE MENU: The Game.

The same issues were there on Vita. If the exact same problems persist on a more powerful console, there is no other explanation than "these people don't know how to use Unity, and haven't learned in the 2 years the port took". Which is... well, sad. Also, some part of the UI overflow from my screen, though I don't know if it's something from the game or from my setting on the Switch (I haven't used it much). I'm guessing the same issues will happen on PS4 and PC, which is not going to go well at all with most people.

Not only the game was made on a shoe-string budget, it was also ported on a shoe-string budget.
Which means it's probably translated on a shoe-string budget. Beware if you think about trying in in English.







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"Re(9):The SaGa of Square-Enix franchises" , posted Sat 4 Aug 07:40post reply

Seems like Kawazu does have a huge following, but it's a shame his "lesser" titles like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers and his other non-SaGa games never got the attention they deserved.







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"Re(10):The SaGa of Square-Enix franchises" , posted Sun 5 Aug 04:21post reply

quote:
Can you hear me? I am the voice of your conscience.. you must play SaGa on the original b&w Gameboy..
M, Makai Toushi SaGa?! Hahaha, I knew I'd been bad, but I didn't know I deserved travelling back to 1989 as punishment! Actually, it was Square's first million-seller, and if the pioneering meat system is anything like Fuurai No Shiren, I'll be right at home. Besides:
quote:
"If my games could be loved by everyone, I would be the happiest man on earth. But even if only one person named Iggy loved my game, I would still be the happiest man on earth."

Clearly Kawazu is an even greater gentleman than I knew. I find it so delightful that in Square-Enix's town full of pleasantly predictable family restaurant chains (Dragon Quest) and over-the-top gourmet options (Final Fantasy), Kawazu continues to run a wildly popular hole-in-the-wall bistro on a shoestring budget where the dishes are sometimes "inconsistent" but always unique.





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