Who Pays for My Choices? The Cost of Sacrifice in Final Fantasy XV...

Be ye warned: this article contains spoilers for Final Fantasy XV. Most video games expect us to sacrifice something to save the world, rescue a princess, or stop an evil dictator. Sometimes we must sacrifice some of our resources, sometimes we have to make the choice to back one country over another, and sometimes we are asked to give up our very lives to save the ones we love. I’ve played a lot of games and come to expect at some point that there will be some sort of sacrifice, although there is one franchise that has consistently made sacrifice uncomfortable and cut through the familiarity: Final Fantasy. I have a vivid memory of the moment Sephiroth appeared behind Aerith and impaled her on his Naginata. I can even smell the carpet I was sitting on the first time I witnessed that death. And I remember wondering how she was going to come back or who they were going to give me to replace my main healer. Once I realized there was no replacement and I’d have to make someone function less effectively to make up for the loss, I was infuriated. It was frustrating and angering and maybe the first time I really felt the loss of a sacrifice (in game or otherwise). I’ve played a lot of games since then, experiencing the pattern of sacrifice in their stories. I’ve shed a tear for a lost brother escaping the locust and I’ve been furious watching a valiant warrior give his life for people who don’t even realize their freedom has a cost. To a certain degree, I’ve grown tired of sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake and find myself annoyed that a hero can’t just win without giving something up. Does everyone always have to...

Hymns and Heroes: 10 Matches Made in Heaven Oct07

Hymns and Heroes: 10 Matches Made in Heaven...

Not many fictional characters stumble into church (except to set the existential mood), and even fewer actually practice Christianity, unless we’re talking Nightcrawler or Nicholas D. Wolfwood. (No, Sephiroth, being a Jenova’s Witness doesn’t count.) But imagine if our favourite characters were—for no particular reason—suddenly forced to choose their epic theme songs from a hymn book (or else face cricket-chirping silence during their otherwise awesome advents). We’ve got a hunch that these 10 hymn-meets-hero mashups might, literally, be matches made in heaven: 1. Obi Wan Kenobi —”Higher Ground” He takes “plant my feet on higher ground” literally. Maybe if Anakin had given this hymn (or, y’know, his Jedi Counselors) a listen, he’d have fewer artificial limbs. 2. Prince Zuko — “Thine Honor Save” Change thy haircut whilst thou art at it. 3. Aerith Gainsborough — “Holy, Holy, Holy” That was the plan. To her credit, the evilest seraphim did eventually “fall down before her.” 4. Light Yagami — “Is My Name Written There?” You’ll know in about 40 seconds. 5. The Night Guard (Five Nights at Freddy’s) — “I’ll Stand By Until the Morning” …if I’m lucky. 6. Edward Elric — “Small Things Count” Except Ed isn’t “small”—he’s fun-sized. I hear arms and legs count, too. 7. Gandalf — “He Lives” And now he comes in more colours. 8. Link — “Must I Go, and Empty-Handed?” (1) Yes, though it is dangerous. (2) No, take this! 9. Goku — “Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand” 100,000,000. Now that’s a power level. 10. Ned Stark — “Winter is Coming” Yes, this is an actual hymn, though it’s more about ice than...

Immortality According to Zack Fair...

I think about death. A lot. Not in a morbid, “the-end-is-near” sort of way, but with the understanding that each passing day means less time to accomplish my dreams. I’ve got half-a-dozen books to publish, a Master’s degree to complete, a world to travel, and a whole lot of video games to play (hurry up, Kingdom Hearts III!). But more than anything, I just want to be remembered for something—even just a small something. Being forgotten amidst history’s dusty pages is the proverbial “fate worse than death.” Whether I admit it out loud or not, I want to live forever, even after my heart stops beating. Thousands of years from now, I could completely “disappear” from public awareness. That thought used to make me wonder if my existence and actions even mattered in the first place. After all, only a lucky few ever become household names. The other millions of people born every year? History—if they’re lucky. Forgotten—if they aren’t. What chance do I have of ever becoming as recognizable as Stan Lee, as biographical as Tolkien, or even as quotable as Joss Whedon? Perhaps that’s why I empathize so much with Zack Fair from Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. Growing up in a backwater town, Zack has dreams bigger than his small world can handle. I can’t blame him for suddenly leaving home, with only a scribbled farewell to his parents, promising that he’ll return as a hero of SOLDIER like his idol, Sephiroth. I believe anybody can be “destined for greatness,” but only when pride takes a backseat to selflessness. As rambunctious as a puppy and driven by equal parts passion and prestige, Zack quickly climbs the ranks of SOLDIER, flashing his (overly) confident smile and taking on bigger, badder beasties than...

A gamer’s guide to depression...

I am left with oddly strangled emotions as I watch Limbo revert back to the title screen. This was a dark game. As someone who has experienced depression, I am not horrified, but rather relieved that someone else can express the difficult emotions that I have felt in the past. It might sound odd, but by playing a nameless boy who runs through a dark forest solving emotionally disturbing puzzles, I feel like I am not alone. There’s something about actually playing a character myself, about walking, running, and sliding through a dark world, dying and getting up again, that is cathartic. This is different than watching someone go through numbing emotions in a book or a movie—when I play, this is me. I make the choice to go forward or stand still. Though my control is limited to where the game takes me; this ironic similarity to life does not escape me. One of the hardest things about depression is facing friends who don’t understand what it feels like. It can be exhausting trying to explain that you can’t just “cheer up,” even if there is no particular reason for your sadness. Depression can be affected by events in your life, In a game like Limbo, dark feelings are not shoved under a rug because they make people feel uncomfortable.yes, but biology can also play a part. (Recent studies suggest depression is not, contrary to popular belief, caused by a “chemical imbalance,” but other biological factors are likely involved.) Regardless, it’s not something you can kick by plastering a smile on your face and pretending you feel fine. I am encouraged by games that deal with this emotion; not only does it make me feel like other players might understand me better, it is...

Guilt and Geostigma

Cloud Strife has had it rough. And he’s not making anything easier for himself. In addition to the deaths of his closest companions, Cloud has witnessed the burning of his hometown, undergone unethical medical experimentation, and suffered from various psychological conditions—including a nasty bout of dissociative identity disorder. By the time we’ve caught up with the unsmiling, spikey-headed hero in Final Fantasy: Advent Children, all that emotional instability has begun to take its deadly toll… and the fact that he’s contracted a cancerous, PTSD-inducing disease called Geostigma isn’t helping either. Spawned from strands of his arch-nemesis Sephiroth’s DNA, the disease literally thrives on Cloud’s guilty conscience, taking every opportunity to remind him that it’s his fault his love interest, Aerith, was brutally killed. Cloud isn’t afraid to die—in fact, he’s exiled himself to a penitent, living death while the disease eats away at his skin. In fact, he’s terrified to live with the weight of his guilt. He isolates himself, attempting to cut all social ties so that no additional failures can taint his conscience, but in doing so he builds emotional barriers that, through misunderstanding, threaten to disconnect the network of friends he considers to be his family. A long sleeve keeps Cloud’s infected arm hidden from prying eyes, metaphorically symbolizing his unwillingness to make himself vulnerable by telling others of his condition. That doesn’t stop his childhood sweetheart, Tifa, from finding out the truth, though, which leads to a heated confrontation:The grace that had ever been available to him is finally able to manifest itself because he’s made himself vulnerable to it. “So you’re just gonna give up and die. Is that it?” she accuses. “There is no cure,” he answers. Cloud is clearly talking about more than his disease here—he’s also talking about his...

Magic by another name Aug10

Magic by another name...

Sometimes I find myself wishing I lived in Hogwarts or Middle earth. Why? Because of magic, of course. But after a bit of thought, I realized I’m not really missing out on much, because magic exists in my world already. Do you believe in magic? And when I say “magic,” I mean as it is often depicted in fiction: a seemingly all-powerful force which can only be harnessed by a certain number of gifted people. So do you? No? You’re not alone. Magic is generally accepted by our modern society to be an impossibility, and to say otherwise seems like nothing but foolery. However, “nothing but foolery” is my middle name—well, close enough. I believe magic is, in fact, a very real part of our everyday lives. We just know it by another name. I believe that even the most deeply spiritual occurrences can be explained scientifically. In order to dismiss magic as an impossibility, you should first be able to not only define it, but explain why you believe it cannot exist. I would define magic using these words: that which is amazing and unexplainable. In Season 5 of Adventure Time, Princess Bubblegum describes magic exactly how I see it: “All magic is science!” she says. “You just don’t know what you’re doing, so you call it magic!” (Episode 26: “Wizards Only, Fools!”) Take Hermione Granger from Harry Potter casting “Alohomora,” for example. Is it scientifically impossible to unlock a door? Not at all. Can we explain exactly how her magic spell accomplishes this? No. Our quick dismissal of its possibility simply stems from our own lack of understanding. Or consider Vivi from Final Fantasy IX casting “Firaga.” Is it impossible to create a massive fiery blast which has the ability to harm...

Jokes to make you laugh and cry Jul10

Jokes to make you laugh and cry...

What doesn’t Tara drink? She’s not a fan of shots. What show does Boromir never seem to catch? Arrow. How much did it cost Dr. Horrible to join the Evil League of Evil? Just one Penny. What is Sephiroth’s favourite food? Shish kabobs. How do Reavers clean their spears? They put them through the...

A sonnet for Sephiroth Jun26

A sonnet for Sephiroth

Oh where have ye gone, my foe Sephiroth? Ye go to Midgar or to northern cave? I aim to end ye, yes I swear I doth Your sword has murdered many SOLDIERS brave Each day alone I mourn my Cetra’s death You killed her, jerk, you killed her with your sword And as I knelt, I heard her dying breath For long I’ve cried tears I cannot afford Forsooth, your plot to call Meteor shall fail Faced with my limit break you will cower Even the glow of materia is pale Next to your lust for the life stream’s power For Aerith’s love remembered, I am weak But to this day on you, revenge I...

Final Fantasy battle medley May19

Final Fantasy battle medley...

In honour of music month, one of our guest writers (who is also a musician, you may notice) elected to write us a song. Saddle up your Chocobos, strap in the Onion Kids, and Locke and load my friends. From the Cloud comes the Lightning and takes us out of Winnipeg Snow and right to the Edge, mister Mark Barron. Final Fantasy battle medley! by Mark Barron “No fancy production here; this is all just live in front of my webcam, except the two obvious parts where there are overhanging chords and different effects. The downside is that after the two takes, I realized I had cut off some of my left hand, which I’m thankful to say is much less painful than it...

Video game music that we love May08

Video game music that we love

Since May is our music-themed month, we will be regaling you with fun playlists every Friday. This is some of our favourite tunes from awesome video games. We love that the Civilization IV song is the Lord’s Prayer. And also, Lindsey Stirling is one of our favourite musicians of all time; go listen to all her stuff on YouTube. “Zelda Medley” (Lindsey Stirling) This gives us the feels. Time to go play Ocarina of Time.   “Baba Yetu” (Civilization IV) This is actually the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili. It was the first video game theme nominated for a Grammy.   “Never Forget” (Halo) We will never forget how amazing the Halo soundtrack is.   “Fear Not This Night” (Guild Wars 2) This Guild Wars 2 song is our sandwich, along with the game itself.   “One Winged Angel” (Final Fantasy VII) You can’t go wrong with Final Fantasy music. Really, it’s all...

The battle of cute and deadly Mar27

The battle of cute and deadly

Tired, old Yoda was strolling along through the Dagobah swamp like nothing was wrong when suddenly Mega Gnar popped out of the mist and pummeled into Yoda with his great, big fist Yoda force-shoved him back, Gnar landed on his feet Gnar leapt away through the air as they both felt the heat of a lightning bolt crashing between them on the ground and Pikachu came tumbling through the air with the sound of “Pika!” he cried as he zapped Gnar away then “Kupo!” Mog the moogle chose to join in the fray for a moment there was silence, when from out of the fog sinking teeth into Mog’s ear was the Rabbit of Caerbannog Then River Tam, Skull the Troll, Reepicheep, Krtek the mole, Mogwai Gizmo, the Duck of Doom, May Chang’s panda and Rocket Raccoon shouted “for Narnia!” and “Bring the pain!” and “I can kill you with my brain.” Killua Zoldyk sauntered in with a sigh dodging every strike like it was easy as pie Gizmo tried with a leap to jump on his head Gnar was standing by a tree and looking kinda fed Nibbler toddled in, confusion on his face Skull the Troll aimed to smash his head in with a mace Then Nibbler bared his teeth, they were ready to rend And he gobbled up the group entirely. So satisfied. The...

Opening a geek (not greek) pizza shop… Feb13

Opening a geek (not greek) pizza shop…...

The best pizza shops name their pizzas so we decided to give it a go. Not that we have any intention of ever opening up a pizza shop.. or do we? So what did we miss? Any further suggestions?

Unlikely Friendships that Should Have Been Feb05

Unlikely Friendships that Should Have Been

We all know (and love) the many friendships that are exhibited within a variety of shows: Han and Chewy, Frodo and Sam, Mega Man and Rocket, Blanka and your face, you get the idea. But sometimes those friendships are just not enough and we need to reach outside their respective genres for the friendship matches made in heaven. Here are our top 10: Calvin & Chewbacca “You know, Chewy, some days even my lucky Millenium Falcon underpants don’t help.” Hermione Granger & Twilight Sparkle They’ll form a group called S.B.E.W. (Society for the Bookworms of Equestria and the World). Edward Elric & Gimli Sometimes dynamite comes in small packages and can explode at anytime, especially if you mention anything about being short. Tony Stark & Tali-Zorah “Testing rocket boots, Day 11, Test 37, Configuration 2.0. For lack of a better option, Tali is still on fire safety.” Arya Stark & Toph Beifong We just want to see these two take on an army together. Master Chief (John-117) & John the Baptist “But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, one who wears the spartan helmet of salvation and wields the energy sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Sephiroth and Scar Scar would get some much needed perspective—“You wanna be king of a rock? Well I wanna destroy the world with a giant meteor”—and Sephiroth can stop being jealous that he doesn’t have a pet lion like the other side. Mal Reynolds & Doctor Horrible So Doctor Horrible can’t be friends with Captain Hammer, but he can darn sure be friends with Captain Tightpants! Caprica Six & Seven of Nine Separated from the hive collective with a strong desire to gain some form of humanity. It’s kind of true for both. Although Seven of Nine definitely has better taste in men. Jayne Cobb & John Casey “Do you know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I go and get to beat you with until you buy this washing machine.” Certainly we missed a bunch. Which unlikely friendships would you...